The Surprising Impact of Everyday Leadership on Wellbeing

Michael Glazer is a Tokyo-based Senior Consultant whose client work spans 15 countries across four continents. Learn more about Michael here.

Over the past year, I've been reminded again and again through reading, interviewing experts for my podcast, and working with my clients that one of the most effective and reliable ways to foster wellbeing at work doesn't have to be anything fancy. Taking care of the basics can have a greater positive impact than we might realize.

One way to do this is to practice basic leadership behaviors like having regular one-on-one meetings. In fact, I’ve written about this before. When done well, one-on-one meetings can improve communication, build trust, and create a sense of connection and support within the team, leading to less stress and higher morale.

This is not just my opinion. There are so many academic studies that have investigated the impact of common one-on-one meeting behaviors on wellbeing. Here are three examples:

  • A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology looked at the impact of leader-member exchange (LME) on burnout and turnover intention among employees. LME measures the quality of the relationship between a leader and their team and is often used as a proxy for basic behaviors like regular one-on-one meetings. The study found that higher levels of LME were linked to lower levels of burnout and turnover intent, and that LME can have a positive impact on wellbeing by reducing burnout and increasing work engagement.
  • This small study published in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication investigated the relationship between transformational leadership and wellbeing of 100 employees in the banking sector. Transformational leadership focuses on inspiring team members to reach their full potential and is often associated with basic leadership behaviors such as regular one-on-one meetings. The researchers found that transformational leadership was linked to lower levels of emotional exhaustion and higher levels of job satisfaction.
  • Last, a systematic review of three decades of research, published in the journal Work & Stress, found that behaviors such as support, empowerment and consideration, are central for one-to-one meetings, are associated with lower stress levels and improved employee wellbeing.

Let me be clear, I don't want to downplay the importance and value of corporate wellbeing initiatives, but I also believe that the value of getting the leader fundamentals right, like conducting one-to-one meetings well, should not be overlooked or undervalued.