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The Impact of Leadership Style on Employee Engagement in Nigeria Banking Sector: a Case Study of Union Bank



The study investigated the relationship between leadership styles and employee engagement within Union Bank, Nigeria. A quantitative survey research design was adopted, utilizing a structured questionnaire to collect data from a sample of 120 respondents. The data collected underwent analysis using SPSS27, with statistical techniques such as t-tests employed to test the formulated hypotheses. The findings of the study revealed significant insights into the impact of different leadership styles on employee engagement levels. Transformational leadership emerged as a significant positive influencer of employee engagement. Supervisors exhibiting transformational leadership qualities were observed to inspire subordinates, leading to improved performance and a strong alignment with organizational goals. Conversely, transactional leadership showed varied results, indicating its potential to motivate through rewards and recognition but also its tendency to create a transactional work environment lacking intrinsic motivation. Laissez-faire leadership was found to have a negative impact on employee engagement, as employees perceived a lack of direction and support, adversely affecting job satisfaction and productivity. In conclusion, the study underscores the pivotal role of leadership styles in shaping employee engagement dynamics within Union Bank. It emphasizes the necessity for cultivating transformational leadership behaviours among supervisors to foster motivation and commitment among employees. Additionally, the study advocates for clear communication of expectations, regular feedback mechanisms, and recognition systems to enhance employee engagement levels and overall organizational performance. Based on these findings, several actionable recommendations can be proposed. Union Bank should prioritize leadership development programs focusing on nurturing transformational leadership qualities. Clear performance expectations and recognition systems should be established to reinforce desired behaviours and outcomes. Regular feedback mechanisms need to be implemented to address employee concerns promptly and foster a supportive work environment. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of leadership practices and employee engagement levels are also recommended to identify areas for improvement and ensure sustained organizational success.




Background to the Study

Leadership style plays a crucial role in shaping organizational culture and employee behaviour (Schein, 2020). In the context of the Nigerian banking sector, which is known for its dynamic and competitive environment, the impact of leadership style on employee engagement has garnered significant attention.

Employee engagement is a multifaceted concept that encompasses various aspects of an employee’s relationship with their work, colleagues, and organization (Smith, 2022). It is not merely about job satisfaction but also includes elements such as commitment, motivation, and willingness to go the extra mile. Research has shown that engaged employees tend to be more productive, innovative, and loyal to their organizations (Vroom, 2020).

Leadership style plays a critical role in influencing employee engagement levels within an organization (Robbins, 1996). Transformational leadership, for instance, has been associated with higher levels of employee engagement due to its focus on inspiring and motivating followers through a shared vision and individualized consideration (Tichy, 2023). Leaders who adopt a transformational style often empower their employees, encourage creativity, and foster a sense of belonging and purpose.

On the other hand, transactional leadership, characterized by a more task-oriented and directive approach, may have a different impact on employee engagement (Stodgill, 2021). Transactional leaders rely on rewards and punishments to motivate employees, which can lead to a more transactional relationship rather than a deeply engaged one. While this style may be effective in certain situations, it may not necessarily foster long-term engagement and commitment among employees.

In the Nigerian banking sector, where competition is fierce and market dynamics are constantly evolving, the role of leadership in driving employee engagement becomes even more critical (Yammarino, 2020). Leaders in this sector must navigate complex challenges such as regulatory changes, technological advancements, and customer expectations while also ensuring that their teams remain motivated, aligned, and engaged.

Effective leadership in the banking sector involves not only understanding the nuances of different leadership styles but also adapting them to suit the organizational culture and context (Schein, 2020). For example, a leader in a Nigerian bank may need to blend transformational elements such as vision and inspiration with transactional elements such as performance metrics and accountability.

Furthermore, the organizational culture within banks can either support or hinder employee engagement efforts (Tvorik, 2019). A culture that values transparency, collaboration, and continuous learning is more likely to foster high levels of employee engagement. Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping and reinforcing such a culture through their actions, decisions, and communication practices.

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the importance of employee well-being and work-life balance in the banking sector (Thomsen & Hoest, 2021). Leaders who prioritize employee wellness, provide opportunities for growth and development, and promote a healthy work environment are more likely to have engaged and satisfied employees. This not only contributes to individual well-being but also overall organizational performance and sustainability.

It is also crucial for leaders in the banking sector to understand the diverse needs and expectations of their workforce (Vroom, 2020). With a mix of generations, skill sets, and backgrounds, leaders must adopt inclusive leadership practices that value diversity, equity, and inclusion. Engaging with employees at all levels, seeking their feedback, and involving them in decision-making processes can enhance their sense of ownership and engagement.

In conclusion, leadership style significantly influences employee engagement in the Nigerian banking sector. Leaders who adopt a transformational approach, align organizational goals with employee aspirations, and foster a positive work culture are more likely to create an engaged and high-performing workforce. As the banking sector continues to evolve, the role of leadership in driving employee engagement will remain paramount in achieving sustainable growth, innovation, and success.

Statement of Problem

The Nigerian banking sector is a dynamic and competitive environment, and the role of leadership style in shaping employee engagement has garnered significant attention. However, there exist notable gaps in empirical research specific to this context that need to be addressed.

Firstly, while there is extensive literature on leadership styles and their impact on employee engagement globally, there is a lack of focused studies within the Nigerian banking sector (Robbins, 1996). Many existing studies generalize findings from other industries or countries without considering the unique challenges and dynamics faced by Nigerian banks.

Secondly, there is a need to delve deeper into the intricacies of different leadership styles and their specific effects on employee engagement in Nigerian banks (Schein, 2020). For example, while transformational leadership is often associated with higher engagement levels, its applicability and effectiveness within the Nigerian banking context need empirical validation.

Thirdly, the influence of cultural factors on leadership styles and employee engagement is an area that requires attention (Tvorik, 2019). Nigeria’s cultural diversity and values may shape how leadership is perceived and practised within banking organizations, ultimately impacting employee engagement outcomes.

Additionally, the rapid technological advancements and evolving customer expectations in the banking sector necessitate a reexamination of leadership practices and their alignment with employee engagement strategies (Vroom, 2020). Leaders must adapt to digital transformations and ensure that employees are equipped and motivated to navigate these changes while maintaining high engagement levels.

Furthermore, the link between leadership style, employee engagement, and organizational performance metrics such as profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee retention needs further exploration (Thomsen & Hoest, 2021). Understanding how different leadership approaches contribute to tangible business outcomes can provide valuable insights for organizational leaders and policymakers.

Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of this study include to:

  1. Determine the influence of transformational leadership on employee engagement in Union Bank.
  2. Assess the impact of transactional leadership on employee engagement in Union Bank.
  3. Investigate the role of laissez-faire leadership on employee engagement in Union Bank.

 Research Questions

The following research questions were asked:

  1. How does the transformational leadership style influence employee engagement in Union Bank?
  2. What is the impact of transactional leadership style on employee engagement in Union Bank?
  3. How does the laissez-faire leadership style affect employee engagement at Union Bank?

Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested:

Null Hypotheses(H0):

  1. Transformational leadership negatively influences employee engagement in Union Bank.
  2. Transactional leadership has no significant impact on employee engagement in Union Bank.
  3. Laissez-faire leadership negatively affects employee engagement in Union Bank.


Alternative Hypotheses(H1):

  1. Transformational leadership positively influences employee engagement in Union Bank.
  2. Transactional leadership has a significant impact on employee engagement in Union Bank.
  3. Laissez-faire leadership positively affects employee engagement in Union Bank.

Significance of the Study

The significance of studying the impact of leadership style on employee engagement in the Nigerian banking sector is multifaceted and crucial for various stakeholders. This study holds several implications for the field of organizational behaviour, management, and policy-making within the banking industry.

Firstly, understanding the relationship between leadership style and employee engagement in Nigerian banks contributes to the body of knowledge in organizational behaviour and management. By conducting empirical research within this specific context, the study can provide insights into how different leadership styles, such as transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire, influence employee engagement levels. These insights can further enrich existing theories and models of leadership effectiveness and employee motivation.

Secondly, the findings from this study can have practical implications for organizational leaders within the Nigerian banking sector. Leaders can gain a deeper understanding of which leadership styles are most effective in fostering high levels of employee engagement, commitment, and productivity. This knowledge can guide leaders in adopting suitable leadership approaches and strategies that align with the organizational culture and goals, ultimately leading to a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Moreover, the study’s significance extends to human resource management practices within Nigerian banks. HR professionals can leverage the findings to design and implement employee engagement initiatives that are tailored to the leadership styles prevalent in their organizations. This can include training programs for leaders, the development of engagement measurement tools, and the creation of a supportive work environment conducive to employee well-being and satisfaction.

Additionally, policymakers and regulators in the banking sector can benefit from the study’s insights. Understanding the impact of leadership style on employee engagement can inform policy frameworks and guidelines aimed at enhancing leadership effectiveness and employee welfare across the industry. This can contribute to creating a more resilient and competitive banking sector in Nigeria, aligned with global best practices in leadership and management.

Furthermore, the study’s findings can have implications for organizational performance and sustainability in Nigerian banks. Engaged employees are more likely to contribute positively to organizational goals, innovate, and provide excellent customer service. Therefore, by fostering a culture of effective leadership and high employee engagement, banks can improve their overall performance metrics, customer satisfaction levels, and long-term sustainability in a highly competitive market.

Scope of the Study

This study focuses specifically on Union Bank within the Nigerian banking sector. It will examine the perceptions of employees regarding different leadership styles and their impact on engagement levels. The study will cover a period of [specific time frame] to ensure a comprehensive analysis of the chosen variables.

Operational Definition of Terms

Leadership Style: Refers to the approach or manner in which a leader interacts with and influences their subordinates to achieve organizational goals.

Employee Engagement: The emotional commitment and involvement of employees towards their work, organization, and goals.

Transformational Leadership: A leadership style characterized by inspiring and motivating followers through vision, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration.

Transactional Leadership: A leadership style focused on exchanges between leaders and followers, where rewards and punishments are used to motivate performance.

Laissez-Faire Leadership: A hands-off leadership style where leaders provide little guidance or direction to followers.

Nigerian Banking Sector: Refers to the collection of banks and financial institutions operating within Nigeria’s economy.

Organizational Performance: The effectiveness of an organization in achieving its goals and objectives, often measured through financial and non-financial indicators.

Perception: The way individuals interpret and make sense of their experiences, including their views on leadership and engagement within the organization.



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  • Robson, C. (2020). Real World Research (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Yin, R. K. (2018). Case Study Research and Applications: Designs and Methods (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.


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