Engagement, Leadership, & Personality

Andrew J. Wefald, Kansas State University, Rebecca J. Reichard and Shawn A. Serrano, both of Claremont Graduate University, recently published “Fitting Engagement into a Nomological Network: The Relationship of Engagement to Leadership and Personality” in Online First in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. Professor Wefald shared some background information about the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

I’d like to think this research applies to both practitioners and academics, but the real target audience is those who are interested in the concept of engagement. I believe there is a lot of interest on both sides about engagement and that there is little solid empirical evidence surrounding the concept.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

My major advisor first got interested in the concept of engagement. It actually mirrored my experience working for a large telecommunications company. I spent 6 years in a sales/customer service job and it started off great -stock options, Starbucks in the office, trips to Las Vegas, but over the years (and internet/economy crashes)it became a depressing place to work and I became disengaged and dissatisfied. So I was naturally interested in a concept that could inform my own experiences.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

The strong connection between personality variables and engagement surprised me. Engagement is supposed to be more state-like, but my research suggests a more stable construct. Some other interesting findings from my other work include the significant overlap between engagement and job satisfaction (which I guess shouldn’t be surprising considering the similarity of many of the items).

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

My hope is that this research begins to place engagement in a nomological network and that other researchers can expand on that network. I also see a strong connection between workplace leadership/management and employee engagement. That connection makes sense, but research will tease out how and why that connection exists and how to improve it.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

My research focuses on job attitudes, personality, and leadership so this project really highlights the main focus of my research. My future projects include political skill and Machiavellianism. I’m interested in those topics and how they might relate to engagement, satisfaction, and leadership.

How did your paper change during the review process?

We actually found a lot of full mediations that we had not explored due to the reviewers’ comments so we were SUPER excited about that. The reviewers really challenged us and helped us improve the paper significantly.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

If I could get a second run of the survey to have a longitudinal study, then that would be great. And if I could have had performance data, that would have been great too.

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