Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how a supervisor’s virtuous leadership as perceived by subordinates influences subordinates’ work-related well-being and to examine the mediating role of trust in the leader and the moderating roles of individual leader virtues and various characteristics of subordinates and organizations. Design/methodology/approach: An online survey was conducted through Prolific among a self-selected sample of 1,237 employees who worked with an immediate supervisor across various industries in primarily the UK and the USA. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses. Findings: The empirical results indicate that an immediate supervisor’s virtuous leadership as evaluated by the subordinate positively influences all three considered dimensions of work-related well-being – job satisfaction, work-related affect and work engagement – for a wide variety of employees in different industries and countries. A subordinate’s greater trust in the supervisor fully mediates this positive influence for job satisfaction and work engagement and partially for work-related affect. All five individual core leader virtues – prudence, temperance, justice, courage and humanity – positively influence work-related well-being. Practical implications: The findings underscore that promoting virtuous leadership is a promising pathway for improved employee well-being, which may ultimately benefit individual and organizational performance. Originality/value: Despite an age-old interest in leader virtues, the lack of consensus on the defining elements of virtuous leadership has limited the understanding of its consequences. Building on recent advances in the conceptualization and measurement of virtuous leadership and leader character, this paper addresses this void by exploring how virtuous leadership relates to employees’ well-being and trust.

Business ethics and sustainability, Job satisfaction, Leader character, Leader virtues, Trust in leader, Work engagement, Work-related affect
dx.doi.org/10.1108/MRR-07-2019-0326, hdl.handle.net/1765/125009
Management Research Review
Erasmus School of Economics

Hendriks, M, Burger, M.J, Rijsenbilt, J.A, Pleeging, E, & Commandeur, H.R. (2020). Virtuous leadership: a source of employee well-being and trust. Management Research Review. doi:10.1108/MRR-07-2019-0326