Study finds link between work-life balance and effective leadership

Managers who disconnected from work at the end of the day were rated by their employees as more capable leaders

A new study published in Journal of Applied Psychology has examined the link between the ability to disconnect from work at the end of the day and effective leadership.

Scientists from University of Florida, the University of Arizona and Florida State University surveyed managers from US businesses in 2019 and 2022.

They assessed the ability of leaders to disconnect from work when at home the night before. The following day they examined the manager’s level of energy and how strongly they identified as a leader.

The researchers also asked employees to rate their manager’s ability to lead teams.

Professor Klodiana Lanaj, of the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, shared: “What we found is that on nights when leaders were able to completely turn off and not think about work, they were more energized the next day, and they felt better connected to their leadership role at work. On those same days, their followers reported that these leaders were more effective in motivating them and in guiding their work."

Lanaj highlighted that leaving work at work seemed particularly important for inexperienced leaders – who benefited most from recuperation time at home.

“Leaders have challenging jobs as they juggle their own role responsibilities with the needs of their followers, and they need to recover from the demands of the leadership role,” she said.