IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Linking Transformational and Despotic Leadership to Employee Engagement: Unfolding the Role of Psychological Distress as a Mediator


  • Xiangyu Song

    (College of Economics and Management, Guiyang University, Guiyang 550009, China)

  • Mishal Khosa

    (School of Business Management, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok 06010, Kedah, Malaysia)

  • Zeeshan Ahmed

    (School of Business Management, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok 06010, Kedah, Malaysia)

  • Abdulaziz Fahmi Omar Faqera

    (School of Government, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok 06010, Kedah, Malaysia)

  • Nhat Tan Nguyen

    (Faculty of Business Administration, Ho Chi Minh City University of Foreign Languages—Information Technology, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam)

  • Shafique Ur Rehman

    (ILMA University Business School, ILMA University, Main Ibrahim Hyderi Road, Korangi Creek, Karachi 75190, Pakistan)

  • Yueyong He

    (School of Management, Guizhou University, Guiyang 550025, China)


This research investigates the antecedents of employee engagement in Pakistan’s banks to conceptualize the idea of employee engagement. For this, the study examines the relationship between transformational leadership (TL), despotic leadership (DL), and the mediation of psychological distress (PD) with an outcome variable, employee engagement (EE). The study focused on first-line bank managers based in Punjab province using a cluster sampling technique. A questionnaire survey was used, and 341 respondents were selected for analysis using PLS-SEM. The study’s findings confirmed that all seven hypotheses tested were statistically significant. The results revealed that the transforming role of transformational leadership is more effective than despotic leadership in promoting employee engagement. The indirect link of psychological distress between transformational leadership, despotic leadership, and employee engagement also acts vice versa. The current study findings have implications for advancing our understanding of the effects of transformational leadership because of their positivity, which can reduce psychological distress and increase employee engagement in the service sector. In contrast, despotic leadership undermines employees’ abilities by increasing psychological distress and disengagement among employees. Our findings will help the banking industry understand how despotic and transformational leadership can negatively and positively affect employee outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiangyu Song & Mishal Khosa & Zeeshan Ahmed & Abdulaziz Fahmi Omar Faqera & Nhat Tan Nguyen & Shafique Ur Rehman & Yueyong He, 2022. "Linking Transformational and Despotic Leadership to Employee Engagement: Unfolding the Role of Psychological Distress as a Mediator," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(14), pages 1-21, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:14:y:2022:i:14:p:8851-:d:866594

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chen, Jian-Xun & Sharma, Piyush & Zhan, Wu & Liu, Li, 2019. "Demystifying the impact of CEO transformational leadership on firm performance: Interactive roles of exploratory innovation and environmental uncertainty," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 85-96.
    2. Jean-Pierre Neveu & Stevan E. Hobfoll & Jonathon Halbesleben & M Westman, 2018. "Conservation of resources in the organizational context : the reality of resources and their consequences," Post-Print hal-02472360, HAL.
    3. Xiang Zhou & Samma Faiz Rasool & Jing Yang & Muhammad Zaheer Asghar, 2021. "Exploring the Relationship between Despotic Leadership and Job Satisfaction: The Role of Self Efficacy and Leader–Member Exchange," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(10), pages 1-20, May.
    4. Sarstedt, Marko & Hair, Joseph F. & Cheah, Jun-Hwa & Becker, Jan-Michael & Ringle, Christian M., 2019. "How to specify, estimate, and validate higher-order constructs in PLS-SEM," Australasian marketing journal, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 197-211.
    5. Nikolova, Irina & Schaufeli, Wilmar & Notelaers, Guy, 2019. "Engaging leader – Engaged employees? A cross-lagged study on employee engagement," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 772-783.
    6. Chua, Jeremy & Ayoko, Oluremi B., 2021. "Employees’ self-determined motivation, transformational leadership and work engagement," Journal of Management & Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 523-543, May.
    7. Soleman Mozammel & Perry Haan, 2016. "Transformational leadership and employee engagement in the banking sector in Bangladesh," Journal of Developing Areas, Tennessee State University, College of Business, vol. 50(6), pages 43-55, Special I.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Jiatong Yu & Jiajue Wang & Taesoo Moon, 2022. "Influence of Digital Transformation Capability on Operational Performance," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(13), pages 1-20, June.
    2. Hao Zhou & Xinyi Sheng & Yulin He & Xiaoye Qian, 2020. "Ethical Leadership as the Reliever of Frontline Service Employees’ Emotional Exhaustion: A Moderated Mediation Model," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(3), pages 1-13, February.
    3. Carlos Bazan, 2022. "Effect of the University’s Environment and Support System on Subjective Social Norms as Precursor of the Entrepreneurial Intention of Students," SAGE Open, , vol. 12(4), pages 21582440221, October.
    4. Zhikun Ding & Xinyue Huang & Xinrui Wang & Qiaohui Chen & Jiasheng Zhang & Zezhou Wu, 2024. "Investigating the Determinants of Construction Stakeholders’ Intention to Use Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling Products Based on the S-O-R Model in China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 16(6), pages 1-17, March.
    5. Wendian Shi & Feng Wang & Xiujun Li, 2021. "Depletion Effect of Work-Leisure Conflict: A Daily Diary Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 297-317, November.
    6. Xie, Junyi & Ifie, Kemefasu & Gruber, Thorsten, 2022. "The dual threat of COVID-19 to health and job security – Exploring the role of mindfulness in sustaining frontline employee-related outcomes," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 216-227.
    7. Rahila Huma Anwar & Sajida Zaki & Natasha Memon & Ramayah Thurasamy, 2021. "Exploring the Interplay of Trait Emotional Intelligence and ESL Teacher Effectiveness: Is Self-Efficacy the Mechanism Linking Them?," SAGE Open, , vol. 11(4), pages 21582440211, November.
    8. Tarcia Camily Cavalcante Quezado & Nuno Fortes & William Quezado Figueiredo Cavalcante, 2022. "The Influence of Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics on Brand Fidelity: The Importance of Brand Love and Brand Attitude," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(5), pages 1-20, March.
    9. Luther Yuong Qai Chong & Thien Sang Lim, 2022. "Pull and Push Factors of Data Analytics Adoption and Its Mediating Role on Operational Performance," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(12), pages 1-19, June.
    10. Meena Madhavan & Mohammed Ali Sharafuddin & Thanapong Chaichana, 2022. "Impact of Business Model Innovation on Sustainable Performance of Processed Marine Food Product SMEs in Thailand—A PLS-SEM Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(15), pages 1-33, August.
    11. Mohd Fadhli Mohd Fauzi & Hanizah Mohd Yusoff & Rosnawati Muhamad Robat & Nur Adibah Mat Saruan & Khairil Idham Ismail & Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris, 2020. "Doctors’ Mental Health in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic: The Roles of Work Demands and Recovery Experiences," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(19), pages 1-16, October.
    12. David Giauque & Frédéric Cornu & Karine Renard & Yves Emery, 2023. "Opportunity to Use New Ways of Working: Do Sectors and Organizational Characteristics Shape Employee Perceptions?," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(14), pages 1-21, July.
    13. Luo, Xi & Cheah, Jun-Hwa & Hollebeek, Linda D. & Lim, Xin-Jean, 2024. "Boosting customers’ impulsive buying tendency in live-streaming commerce: The role of customer engagement and deal proneness," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    14. Martin Hoegl & Silja Hartmann, 2021. "Bouncing back, if not beyond: Challenges for research on resilience," Asian Business & Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 20(4), pages 456-464, September.
    15. Wenjun Wu & Dengke Yu, 2023. "The role of individual perceptions in the completion of formalistic tasks," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 10(1), pages 1-13, December.
    16. Yi Wang & Xianfang Xue & Han Guo, 2022. "The Sustainability of Market Orientation from a Dynamic Perspective: The Mediation of Dynamic Capability and the Moderation of Error Management Climate," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(7), pages 1-15, March.
    17. Abdullah J. Sultan, 2022. "Aligning employees’ work engagement and behavioral performance with internal branding: the missing link of employees’ perceived brand authenticity," Journal of Financial Services Marketing, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 27(1), pages 52-64, March.
    18. Halpern, Nigel & Mwesiumo, Deodat & Suau-Sanchez, Pere & Budd, Thomas & Bråthen, Svein, 2021. "Ready for digital transformation? The effect of organisational readiness, innovation, airport size and ownership on digital change at airports," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    19. Francoise Contreras & Juan C. Espinosa & Gustavo A. Esguerra, 2020. "Could Personal Resources Influence Work Engagement and Burnout? A Study in a Group of Nursing Staff," SAGE Open, , vol. 10(1), pages 21582440199, January.
    20. Nik Masdek Nik Rozana & Wong Kelly Kai Seng & Mohd Nawi Nolila & Sharifuddin Juwaidah & Wong Wang Li, 2023. "Antecedents of sustainable food waste management behaviour: Empirical evidence from urban households in Malaysia," Management & Marketing, Sciendo, vol. 18(1), pages 53-77, March.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:14:y:2022:i:14:p:8851-:d:866594. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: MDPI Indexing Manager (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.