The relationship between transformational leadership and follower sickness absence: The role of presenteeism

Karina Nielsen, Kevin Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
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The impact of transformational leaders on employee health and well-being has received much attention. Less research has focused on the relationships between transformational leaders and followers’ sickness absenteeism. In the present study, we examined the relationships between presenteeism, group-level transformational leadership, and sickness absence rates in a three-year longitudinal study in a postal service (N = 155). We found group-level transformational leadership in year 1 predicted sickness absenteeism in year 2, but not year 3. In examining conditions under which transformational leadership may be linked to higher levels of sickness absenteeism, we found that presenteeism in year 1 moderated the link between transformational leadership in year 1 and sickness absenteeism in year 3, such that followers working in groups with a transformational leader and who were high in presenteeism reported higher levels of sickness absenteeism. Our results suggest a complex picture of the relationship between transformational leadership and sickness absenteeism, transformational leaders may promote self-sacrifice of vulnerable followers by encouraging them to ignore their illnesses leading to increased risks of sickness absence in the long-term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalWork & Stress
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016


  • sickness absenteeism
  • Transformational Leadership
  • presenteeism
  • multilevel analysis

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