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Health Among Leaders: Positive and Negative Affect, Engagement and Burnout, Forgiveness and Revenge


Laura M. Little, Department of Management, William S. Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74075, USA (


abstract  The health of an organization's leader has profound implications not only for the leader, but also for the organization itself and for its members. This study focused on three indicators (positive affect, engagement, forgiveness behaviours) of eustress, the positive stress response, and three indicators (negative affect, burnout, revenge behaviour) of distress, the negative stress response, in relation to the health of pastors, whose jobs closely parallel those of leaders in all types of organizations. Results indicated that both positive affect and revenge behaviour were significantly related to health. A post-hoc analysis indicated that work–family conflict was negatively related to revenge behaviour, while family–work conflict was positively related to revenge behaviour, and that engagement was negatively related to revenge behaviour. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for future studies of leader health, and their practical applications for promoting leader health while preventing distress.