Female leaders more beneficial to employees' wellbeing than male leaders, study suggests

A new study from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Massey University suggests that good female leaders can reduce anxiety among employees more than having a good male leader.

The study is by AUT Professor Jarrod Haar and Massey's Dr David Brougham, and they investigated whether gender makes a difference when it comes to leadership.

They found a good leader who is female helps increase wellbeing and lowers feelings of stress and burnout.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership during the COVID-19 crisis has been praised both in New Zealand and overseas, but this study survey was taken before this pandemic.

A total of 625 employees were sampled. Just over half (57.1 percent) were female and their average age was 40.

"Having a good leader who is female? That further reduced employees' experiences of anxiety, depression, and job burnout compared to those who are led by a male. Notably, these effects hold for female and male employees," the study noted.

"The survey provides clear evidence that during the COVID-19 lockdown period, having a good leader is beneficial for your wellbeing; it is 'extra beneficial' if that leader is a woman."

They believe the results likely reflect the idea female leaders may have a different approach to leadership, with a tendency to be more focussed on relationships, and are more sensitive and responsive to their staff. 

"Thus, good leaders who are female are better able to allay their employees' concerns and frustrations with work. The result? Employees have a greater sense of wellbeing which, in turn, helps make them more productive."

The study hasn't yet been peer-reviewed or finalised.