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Safety leadership: A meta-analytic review of transformational and transactional leadership styles as antecedents of safety behaviours

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Sharon Clarke, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, UK (e-mail: sharon.clarke@manchester.ac.uk).

Abstract

A theoretical model of safety leadership, which incorporated both transformational and active transactional leadership styles, was tested using meta-analytic path analysis. The final model showed that transformational leadership had a positive association with both perceived safety climate and safety participation, with perceived safety climate partially mediating the effect of leadership on safety participation. Active transactional leadership had a positive association with perceived safety climate, safety participation and safety compliance. The effect of leadership on safety compliance was partially mediated by perceived safety climate and the effect on safety participation fully mediated by perceived safety climate. The findings suggest that active transactional leadership is important in ensuring compliance with rules and regulations, whereas transformational leadership is primarily associated with encouraging employee participation in safety. Therefore, in line with the augmentation hypothesis of leadership, a combination of both transformational and transactional styles appeared to be most beneficial for safety. Avenues for further research and practical implications in terms of leadership training and development are discussed.

Practitioner Points

  • Developed and tested a model of safety leadership, which shows that both transformational and active transactional leadership styles are important aspects of effective safety leadership.
  • Study has implications for practitioners who are involved with the design of leadership training and development programmes, as such programmes should be tailored to focus on a range of leader behaviours that encompass active transactional as well as transformational style.
  • Findings suggest that leadership styles have a differential effect on safety compliance and safety participation – thus, training and development programmes should make specific links between leader behaviours and their subsequent influence on employee behaviour.

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