Impact of Leadership Style on Employees’ Job Satisfaction

Employee engagement

Leadership encompasses all the powerful influence that one can have on the entire organization and individuals to foster sustainable and prosperous development. Developing a personal leadership style is fundamental to building a robust organizational culture.

Job satisfaction illustrates the overall degree of content with the work environment that addresses employees’ needs. It is commonly used as a mediator variable between leadership types and turnover intentions. Therefore, work satisfaction is the leading cause of turnover since dissatisfied employees demonstrate higher intentions to leave.

Turnover intention is the strategic measurement of workers’ intentions to leave their positions and switch the organizations or the organization’s plan to remove some employees. Organizational leaders must employ their best leadership practices to boost employee job satisfaction and avoid turnover intentions. Turnover intention is becoming an increasing trend in the United Arab Emirates as the result of specific employment laws that make it relatively easy for workers to change their jobs.


A literature review was used as an effective methodological tool for this research. Narrow research was applied to analyze the effects and relationship between three variables: leadership style, job satisfaction, and turnover intention.

Transformational and Transactional styles

The theoretical model of transformational and transactional leadership styles was developed by Bass in 1985. Bass’s theory states that leaders showcase different behavioral patterns and styles when they interact with their subordinates. Bass confirmed that transformational leadership positively impacts employees’ job satisfaction while transactional leadership does not display such a correlation.

Transformational and transactional leadership styles are pivotal in guiding the job satisfaction rates in the academic field in the UAE. Behavioral characteristics of transformational leadership style can considerably enhance employee efficiency and productivity compared to transactional leadership style. Transactional leadership illustrates a negative correlation with job satisfaction and, thus, leads to high turnover intention. Transformational leadership also demonstrated greater job satisfaction in the UAE’s medical settings.

Autocratic Leadership

The autocratic leadership style relies on the X theory, which implies that employees have negative attitudes toward work and prefer to follow the leader’s directions. This style is built on the principle of a reward and punishment system. The autocratic style is suggested for cases requiring prompt and right decisions (crises) or within low-education culture among the employees.

Such leadership, however, promotes poor employee relations, which is one of the main reasons employees leave their jobs or turn to deviant behaviors. Through the lens of the Social Exchange Theory, individuals who sense that they receive unfavorable attitudes are more prone to resort to angry behavior and dissatisfied feelings. Hence, autocratic leadership promotes high turnover intention among the employees if they feel neglected in all the decision-making processes in the organization in which they work.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership style advocates for a decentralized decision-making process that is shared with employees. Such a leader eagerly empowers subordinates to participate in making important decisions together with the whole team. This way, employees feel valued as they are involved in the organizational processes.

Given that democratic leaders consider the desires and needs of their subordinates, employee job satisfaction is considerably higher. Democratic leadership significantly enhances employees’ job satisfaction by actively involving them in the process, developing their skills, and encouraging teamwork. The determining point of democratic style in enhancing job satisfaction and preventing turnover intentions is the augmented focus on performance and people.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

This type of leadership is, in fact, considered a non-leadership approach to managing the organizational processes and interactions with employees. The laissez-faire style is defined by the lack of efficient guidance and implies the physical presence of the leader but his spiritual and moral absence in managing employees and work-related issues. However, a leader’s inaction still helps to efficiently delegate the decision-making duties to subordinates despite leaving them with little support.

Employees are endowed with full autonomy to make work-related decisions. It is a novel approach that can be helpful only when a leader supervises highly-qualified employees that can take independent actions. They have fewer turnover intentions in this style because of the lower impact and pressure on subordinates regarding organizational decisions. Nevertheless, the current literature asserts that this leadership style cannot encourage employees’ commitment to the organization and work duties, so it should not be implemented in the workplace.

Servant Leadership

The servant leadership style changes the role between leaders and subordinates. Employees are given the personal development and empowered to improve their performance levels. Similar to transformational leadership, the servant approach recognizes the value of achieving organizational goals and focusing on people. It is about serving people instead of solely guiding them to achieve specific goals.

The theoretical framework of servant leadership is linked to the principles of Christianity and a standard leadership style. It remains one of the most desirable leadership styles in the workplace. Despite the high turnover phenomena in the UAE, servant leadership is a proven strategy to combat the turnover intentions and boost job satisfaction, particularly in educational and medical settings. Servant leaders can also foster employees’ psychological safety, revealing a negative correlation with turnover intentions.

Leadership styles

Leadership style is the most crucial predictor of employees’ organizational commitment and trust, including job satisfaction and turnover intention. The most commonly applied leadership styles for managing the UAE’s enterprises are the autocratic and directorate styles. However, this research focused on the leading leadership styles that are used worldwide but lacked an in-depth investigation in the UAE context. They include transformational, transactional, democratic, laissez-faire, and servant leadership.

Each of them promotes peculiar behavioral patterns that affect employees regarding their content with the job and intentions to leave the organization. The research filled the gap in the management discipline and provided critical insights into the comprehensive influence of leadership styles and job satisfaction on employee turnover in the UAE context.

Concluding thoughts

To be a leader in the modern business environment is to go beyond the conventional stereotypes of being the most influential person in the team who solves all the emerging challenges independently. A true, exemplary leader today leads a team of loyal and highly motivated subordinates to create coherent teamwork, achieve organizational goals, and eventually succeed. Leadership defines the behavioral patterns of employees based on their job satisfaction levels and consequent low or high turnover intentions. Turnover intention is a complex issue for organizations since it requires huge investments in human resources and is closely linked to job satisfaction.

In the United Arab Emirates, the turnover remains high compared to other Gulf countries and exceeds the world average due to specific employment laws that make it easy for workers to change their jobs. High turnover is closely linked to the corporate culture of trust and the organizational leadership style. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the broad spectrum of leadership styles and their impact to find the best solution to build long-term relationships with employees and significantly enhance their organizational commitment.

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