Several recent science-backed studies provide proof that what you think, feel and do can make a huge difference in your success as a leader. Your mindset, your emotional intelligence and the work culture you implement impact employee engagement and performance at every level of the organization. How many can you check off?

1.Pay Attention To Your Mindset

One recent study found that leaders have higher positive moods and focus when they mentally reconnect to work in mornings after a period of not working. Setting their intentions and looking over their schedules for the upcoming day, the study found, allows them to engage with employees in a more successful manner for the remainder of the workday. “These leader behaviors are crucial for a variety of employee outcomes,” said Charlotte Fritz, an associate professor at Portland State University and lead author of the study published in The Journal of Vocational Behavior. “Providing a vision, being inspirational and motivating for employees, listening carefully and supporting employee needs and providing them with opportunities for growth.”

2.Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

A new study found that when women leaders in top positions ( who often battle gender stereotypes that label them “too emotional” for effective leadership) express calm, happy emotions, they are perceived as more effective than men. In contrast, male leaders have been challenged with cultivating “more emotional expression” in the form of empathy. But the consensus is that, regardless of gender, an effective leader cares about their employees on a personal level. “Building a strong culture starts by valuing everyone’s humanity and recognizing that we’re leading people,” said Eran Ben-Shushan, co-founder and CEO of Bizzabo whose leaders support employees as whole humans. “I’m proud that Bizzabo provides fully-funded access to mental health services as well as mental health days to give our employees space and permission to reset and recharge.”

3.Reward And Acknowledge Employees

Effective leaders acknowledge and reward employees for hard work, provide a degree of work independence and refrain from unreasonable job demands and deadlines. Company leaders who practice poor management and fail to prioritize the mental health of their employees cultivate a toxic work culture. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a non-stressful workplace is essential for job engagement and productivity as well as the company’s bottom line.

A new science-backed study from the University of South Australia backs up what most of us already know: that a toxic workplace takes a toll on employee mental health. Not only that, but the year-long study of 1,084 full-time employees showed that long work hours and an unsafe psychological work culture are three times more likely to contribute to an employee’s risk of depression. Another recent study reported that toxic workplaces breed incivility. When management allows or fosters workplace incivility—such as bullying, rude interactions or unbridled criticism—it creates a vicious cycle in which employees are more likely to engage in these uncivil actions, especially workers who have little or not control over their jobs.

According to Morgan, effective leaders consider their talent as a renewable resource and finds new ways to invest in their employees to future-proof talent pipelines. “With the change in leadership approaches has come a full culture change for many companies,” he added. “Effective leaders are building a culture of well-being that balances workloads with employees’ emotional and physical health and in turn drives increased engagement and productivity. When companies prioritize the well-being of their employees, business health follows.”

4.Provide ‘Customization’ To Employees

Now that “The Great Resignation” is in full swing and millions of workers rethink how they want to live their lives after the pandemic, they’re not willing to settle for less. Some want a job with more work options such as better benefits, more money, shorter commutes and more flexibility. And some simply are looking for a safer workplace. Michelle Wax, founder of the American Happiness Project, believes hiring practices should use “customization” in order to accommodate employee demands. “With a return to office, employees may feel threatened,” she said. “The more you can allow employees to ‘customize’ their working environment, the better. Depending on personality, their family dynamic at home, and work styles can affect this ‘customization’—allowing team members to implement hybrid working, commuting on their own schedules around meetings to avoid rush hour, or allotting ‘no meeting’ time blocks for productivity and focus are all great solutions to allow for more flexibility and freedom.” 

5.Build A Culture Of Transparency And Trust

Ben-Shushan said he made a commitment early in his company’s history to set values that represent their common, shared beliefs and promises of what they’ll bring to each other, as colleagues, as well as to customers. “I facilitate conversations about the importance of culture and values and the ways we practice them each day,” he said. “Culture building begins with leading by example and leveraging the wealth and diversity of talents within our organization to deliver the best experiences possible.”

Morgan agrees and argues that team connection, trust and communication are the most positive professional shifts to come out of the pandemic. “Management can work to build trust by frequently connecting with employees, helping manage their workloads and offering opportunities to develop new skills,” he said.

Employers need to recognize the growing distrust created in today’s work environment, according to Rick Hammell, CEO and founder of Elements Global Services. Henoted that employees, specifically remote workers, have turned to hiding things from their managers as they are concerned their employers will use this information against them to either give employees more work or use for the ground of termination, further blurring the lines of a work-life balance and the idea of privacy in the workplace. “The trust between HR managers and employees is there—the foundation has been laid. In today’s environment where many are working either fully remote or in a hybrid model, it is even more important to foster that relationship and invest in ways to grow and strengthen employer and employee relations.” The key to mitigating the mistrust is investing in solutions, becoming more flexible, involved and implementing a culture of transparency to keep lines of communication open.


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: