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Identity Leadership, Employee Burnout and the Mediating Role of Team Identification: Evidence from the Global Identity Leadership Development Project

van Dick, Rolf and Cordes, Berrit L. and Lemoine, Jérémy E. and Steffens, Niklas K. and Haslam, S. Alexander and Akfirat, Serap Arslan and Ballada, Christine Joy A. and Bazarov, Tahir and Aruta, John Jamir Benzon R. and Avanzi, Lorenzo and Bodla, Ali Ahmad and Bunjak, Aldijana and Černe, Matej and Dumont, Kitty B. and Edelmann, Charlotte M. and Epitropaki, Olga and Fransen, Katrien and García-Ael, Cristina and Giessner, Steffen and Gleibs, Ilka H. and Godlewska-Werner, Dorota and González, Roberto and Kark, Ronit and Laguia Gonzalez, Ana and Lam, Hodar and Lipponen, Jukka and Lupina-Wegener, Anna and Markovits, Yannis and Maskor, Mazlan and Molero, Fernando and Monzani, Lucas and Moriano Leon, Juan A. and Neves, Pedro and Orosz, Gábor and Pandey, Diwakar and Retowski, Sylwiusz and Roland-Lévy, Christine and Samekin, Adil and Schuh, Sebastian and Sekiguchi, Tomoki and Song, Lynda Jiwen and Story, Joana and Stouten, Jeroen and Sultanova, Lilia and Tatachari, Srinivasan and Valdenegro, Daniel and van Bunderen, Lisanne and Van Dijk, Dina and Wong, Sut I. and Youssef, Farida and Zhang, Xin-an and Kerschreiter, Rudolf (2021) 'Identity Leadership, Employee Burnout and the Mediating Role of Team Identification: Evidence from the Global Identity Leadership Development Project.', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (22). p. 12081.


Do leaders who build a sense of shared social identity in their teams thereby protect them from the adverse effects of workplace stress? This is a question that the present paper explores by testing the hypothesis that identity leadership contributes to stronger team identification among employees and, through this, is associated with reduced burnout. We tested this model with unique datasets from the Global Identity Leadership Development (GILD) project with participants from all inhabited continents. We compared two datasets from 2016/2017 (n = 5290; 20 countries) and 2020/2021 (n = 7294; 28 countries) and found very similar levels of identity leadership, team identification and burnout across the five years. An inspection of the 2020/2021 data at the onset of and later in the COVID-19 pandemic showed stable identity leadership levels and slightly higher levels of both burnout and team identification. Supporting our hypotheses, we found almost identical indirect effects (2016/2017, b = −0.132; 2020/2021, b = −0.133) across the five-year span in both datasets. Using a subset of n = 111 German participants surveyed over two waves, we found the indirect effect confirmed over time with identity leadership (at T1) predicting team identification and, in turn, burnout, three months later. Finally, we explored whether there could be a “too-much-of-a-good-thing” effect for identity leadership. Speaking against this, we found a u-shaped quadratic effect whereby ratings of identity leadership at the upper end of the distribution were related to even stronger team identification and a stronger indirect effect on reduced burnout.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Date accepted:12 November 2021
Date deposited:19 January 2022
Date of first online publication:17 November 2021
Date first made open access:19 January 2022

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