A Systematic Review and Critique of Research on “Healthy Leadership”


Employee health and wellbeing are important concerns for organizations, and it has long been known that social support from leaders has a salutogenic influence on their followers. Over the past decade, several models of “healthy leadership” have been introduced, with the aim of theoretically integrating leadership research with scholarship on occupational health and wellbeing. We present a systematic review and critique of the literature on these models of “healthy leadership” and associated evidence from empirical studies (k = 35). In addition, we compare various models of “healthy leadership” and critically evaluate evidence for their incremental predictive validity above and beyond established leadership constructs (e.g., individualized consideration). We conclude with a discussion of problems in the “healthy leadership” literature (e.g., construct proliferation, confounding of leader behavior and its desired outcomes) and outline a “new agenda” of prescriptive recommendations for “healthy leadership” theory (re)development, research, and practice.

Leadership Quarterly
Cort W. Rudolph
Associate Professor of Industrial & Organizational Psychology