The study's lead researcher Dr. Kuoppala Jaana of Kiiskilampi, Finland, and colleagues searched for the best-quality studies on the effect of leadership on key measures of employee health and well-being.
The review of 27 studies, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, provided moderately strong evidence linking good leadership to increased employee well-being.
Workers with good leadership were 40 percent more likely to be in the highest category of job well-being and had low rates of symptoms like anxiety, depression and job stress.
Good leadership was associated with a 27 percent reduction in sick leave and a 46 percent reduction in disability pensions.
Some studies found that good leadership was associated with increased job satisfaction, although this evidence was relatively weak. There was no evidence showing a significant effect of leadership on measures of job performance.
Leadership is thought to be one of the most important factors mediating the relationship between work and health.
The findings support the "job well-being pyramid model": a theory suggesting that a strong foundation of leadership, healthy work environment, and good working conditions reduces worker health problems.
The pyramid model may provide a useful framework for monitoring occupational health within organizations, Dr. Jaana and colleagues believe.