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Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00622

Fostering stress-preventive leadership in the workplace hospital: The association of transformational leadership with high relational quality between leaders and subordinates

  • 1Tübingen University Hospital, Germany
  • 2Ulm University Medical Center, Germany

Introduction: A good relationship quality between leaders and subordinates promotes mental health and prevents stress in hospital subordinates. Therefore, it is important to identify specific behavioral characteristics which determine the quality of working relationships at this workplace. This study will identify specific leadership characteristics which support the development of a positive relationship between hospital leaders and subordinates.
Methods: A cross-sectional study design was applied. A total number of 1137 leaders and subordinates working at a tertiary hospital in Germany assessed transformational leadership style as a subordinate oriented leadership style and leader–member relationship quality by self-reporting questionnaires (integrative leadership questionnaire FIF, leader-member exchange questionnaire LMX-7). The data were statistically analyzed by mean comparisons and multiple linear regression analysis.
Results: Leaders rated their own transformational leadership style (M = 3.98, SD = 0.43) systematically higher than subordinates assessed their leaders (M = 2.86, SD = 1.04). Evaluation of relationship quality showed similar results: leaders evaluated their relationship quality to one exemplary subordinate higher (M = 4.06, SD = 0.41) than subordinates rated their relationship quality to their direct leader (M = 3.15, SD = 0.97). From the subordinates’ perspective the following sub-dimensions of transformational leadership ‘individuality focus’, ‘being a role model’, ‘fostering innovations’ and ‘providing a vision’ showed large effect sizes in the regression analysis of relationship quality (R2 = 0.79, F (6,698) = 438.27, p <.001, f2= 1.94).
Discussion: The exploration of potential determinates of relationship quality at the workplace hospital can for example support the development of leadership training programs with a focus on transformational leadership style. This might be an opportunity to foster high relationship quality between leaders and subordinates and consequently might present one strategy to prevent stress in the health care sector.

Keywords: Transformational leadership, relationship quality, Health Care Sector, Subordinates, leaders

Received: 25 Apr 2019; Accepted: 05 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Claas Lahmann, Freiburg University Medical Center, Germany

Reviewed by:

Loredana Lucarelli, University of Cagliari, Italy
Christine Allwang, Clinic and Polyclinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Germany
Mirjam Körner, Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, University of Freiburg, Germany  

Copyright: © 2019 Stuber, Seifried-Dübon, Rieger, Zipfel, Gündel and Junne. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Felicitas Stuber, Tübingen University Hospital, Tübingen, Germany, felicitas.stuber@med.uni-tuebingen.de