An Evaluation of exemplary leadership practices and employee engagement in Kenyan insurance firms

Maina, Rosemary Ngendo
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Strathmore University
Leadership is an evolving concept in research. Visionary leaders are expected to create a culture of engagement, maintain employee trust and increase overall satisfaction among employees. Therefore, leaders play a key role in ensuring that the firm realizes its goals by improving the quality of employee engagement. Several models have been used to address the leadership challenge, including the five practices of exemplary leadership by Kouzes and Posner, which assessed individual leader behaviors that influence employee interactions. There are various leadership development models employed by insurance; however, leadership remains a perennial issue. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of exemplary leadership practices and their influence on employee engagement in the insurance industry with a view of giving recommendations on leadership training and development. The study used descriptive design and quantitative methodology. The target population was 53 insurance companies. Purposive sampling was used to select a sampling frame of the top ten insurance companies, followed by stratified random sampling. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data. The tool is a combination of the Leadership practice inventory (LPI) – observer version to measure leadership practices and the Utrecht work engagement scale (UWES) tool to measure employee engagement. Data was analyzed using multiple regression analysis to predict the value of employee engagement in relation to the five practices of exemplary leadership. The study obtained a 77% response rate. The majority of the study participants had over 26 years of age and worked within the sales and marketing, human resources, and operations department. The correlation tests established that leaders encouraging the heart, leaders inspiring a shared vision, leaders modeling the way, leaders challenging the process, and leaders enabling others to act have a positive and significant correlation with employee engagement variables; vigor, dedication, and absorption. The regression results indicated that 37% of variations in employee engagement could be significantly determined by the leadership practices. It was further concluded that leaders’ ability to model the way, encourage the heart, and inspire a shared vision significantly influences employee engagement. In regard to the leaders' ability to challenge the process and enable others to act, there was an insignificant positive influence on employee engagement. The study recommends that leaders should implement feedback systems and encourage more action from employees to drive engagement levels. Additionally, leaders should review the job roles, rewards systems, performance management, and recognition practices.
A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Masters of Business Administration at Strathmore University Business School
Insurance companies, Leadership, Exemplary Leadership practices, Leadership practices, Employee engagement