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Does Family Life Help to be a Better Leader? A Closer Look at Crossover Processes From Leaders to Followers


  • This research was conducted with the support of a grant from the Dutch Institute for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Marie Curie Cofund Action.


Although research on family-to-work processes is accumulating, not many studies have looked at how the leader's family issues spillover to work and what the consequences are for their followers. We investigate whether leaders’ family-to-work conflict (FWC) and enrichment (FWE) influence first their own well-being at work (i.e., job burnout and work engagement) and consequently the well-being of their followers due to crossover processes. We test whether crossover is due to the transfer of emotions from the leader to followers (affective crossover) or due to diminished or enhanced support from the leader (behavioral crossover). Using a sample of 199 leaders and 456 followers, we found that leader FWC (Time 1) was positively related to leader feelings of burnout 4 weeks later (Time 2), consequently enhancing follower feelings of burnout 5 weeks after Time 1 (Time 3). Similarly, leader FWE had a positive relationship with follower engagement, through leader enhanced engagement. Our findings fully supported the affective crossover mechanism. In addition, leader burnout was negatively related to leader supportive behavior, indirectly increasing burnout among followers. Our results underscore that leaders’ family life matters at work, influencing not only their own well-being but also how they motivate and support their followers.