Original Research

Authentic leadership and work engagement: The indirect effects of psychological safety and trust in supervisors

Natasha Maximo, Marius W. Stander, Lynelle Coxen
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 45 | a1612 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v45i0.1612 | © 2019 Natasha Maximo, Marius W. Stander, Lynelle Coxen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 November 2018 | Published: 23 May 2019

About the author(s)

Natasha Maximo, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Marius W. Stander, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Lynelle Coxen, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The orientation of this study was towards authentic leadership and its influence on psychological safety, trust in supervisors and work engagement.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of authentic leadership on trust in supervisors, psychological safety and work engagement. Another aim was to determine whether trust in supervisors and psychological safety had an indirect effect on the relationship between authentic leadership and work engagement. An additional objective was to determine if authentic leadership indirectly influenced psychological safety through trust in supervisors.

Motivation for the study: Globally, businesses are faced with many challenges which may be resolved if leaders are encouraged to be more authentic and employees more engaged. In this study, investigating the role of trust in supervisors and psychological safety on the relationship between authentic leadership and work engagement is emphasised.

Research design, approach and method: This study was quantitative in nature and used a cross-sectional survey design. A sample of 244 employees within the South African mining industry completed the Authentic Leadership Inventory, Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, Workplace Trust Survey and Psychological Safety Questionnaire.

Main findings: The results indicated that authentic leadership is a significant predictor of both trust in supervisors and psychological safety. This study further found that authentic leadership had a statistically significant indirect effect on work engagement through trust in supervisors.

Practical or managerial implications: The main findings suggest that having more authentic leaders in the mining sector could enhance trust in these leaders. Authentic leadership thus plays an important role in creating a positive work environment. This work environment of authenticity and trust could lead to a more engaged workforce.

Contribution or value-add: Limited empirical evidence exists with regard to the relationship between authentic leadership, work engagement, psychological safety and trust in supervisors. This is particularly true in the mining sector. This study aimed to contribute to the limited number of studies conducted.


Keywords

Authentic leadership; trust in supervisor; work engagement; psychological safety; mining industry.

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