Purpose – This study aims to, given that most research focusses on leaders and ignores the influence of follower characteristics on either leadership or engagement, investigate whether employee characteristics moderate the relationship between perceived leadership styles and employee engagement. Recent research has shown that visionary and organic leadership paradigms positively influence employee engagement, compared with classical and transactional leadership environments (Zhang et al., 2014). Design/methodology/approach – Questionnaire data from 432 sales assistants, collected from retail shopping malls in Sydney, Australia, were analyzed. Findings – Structured regression analysis confirmed that the employee characteristics of need for achievement, equity sensitivity and need for clarity moderate the relationship between four leadership paradigms and employee engagement. The nature of the moderation varies in complex ways. Research limitations/implications – There is scope to confirm this study in different contexts, to include additional employee characteristics and reconfirm some scales and to remove common method variance. Practical implications – The findings suggest that to improve employee engagement: employers should recruit staff exhibiting characteristics predicted to generate high employee engagement; organizations should develop supervisors to ensure that they adopt leadership styles found to drive employee engagement; and recruiters should consider matching the characteristics of employees to the prevailing leadership paradigm(s) in the organization. Originality/value – This paper addresses a major gap in the literature by examining the moderating effects of follower characteristics on different leadership paradigms and employee engagement.
- Employee/community engagement
- Leadership theory