Leaders enhance group members' work engagement and reduce their burnout by crafting social identity

Niklas K. Steffens (First Author), Sebastian C. Schuh (Participant Author), Rolf van Dick (Participant Author), Rudolf Kerschreiter (Participant Author), S. Alexander Haslam (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

43 Citations (Web of Science)


Previous research has examined burnout and work engagement as a function of de- mands and resources at work. Yet we know little about the ways in which these are determined by people’s social experience as a member of their workgroup as shaped, in particular, by leaders’ management of shared identity. To address these issues, we propose a model in which leaders’ identity entrepreneurship (the degree to which the leader promotes understanding of shared group identity) impacts on group perform- ance through burnout and work engagement. We tested our model in a field study with 641 participants from the US working population who responded to their work- group leader and indicated their health. Results indicated that when leaders acted as identity entrepreneurs, group members not only reported higher group performance but also experienced less burnout and were more engaged at work. Moreover, the rela- tionship between identity entrepreneurship and group performance was mediated by an increase in work engagement and a reduction in burnout both of which in turn fa- cilitated group performance. These findings suggest that what it means for health- protective leaders to be ‘transformational’ is being capable of facilitating the develop- ment of a special sense of ‘us’ that they and group members share.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-194
JournalGerman Journal of Human Resource Management: Zeitschrift für Personalforschung
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Corresponding author email



  • health
  • identity entrepreneurship
  • leadership
  • social identity

Indexed by

  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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