Leadership matters to the police: Managing emotional labour through authentic leadership

Author Identifier

Ben Farr-Wharton

ORCID : 0000-0001-9987-934X

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Public Money & Management


Taylor & Francis


School of Business and Law




Farr-Wharton, B., Xerri, M., Saccon, C., & Brunetto, Y. (2021). Leadership matters to the police: Managing emotional labour through authentic leadership. Public Money & Management. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540962.2021.1940481


IMPACT: Policing is stressful, and this stress is amplified as a result of chronic under-resourcing and escalating red tape. Frontline managers of police play a crucial role in mitigating police stress, and improving their wellbeing. The research in this article highlights that police managers also shape the turnover intentions of officers. The implication is that policing organizations need to support their managers and leaders to develop qualities that advance the wellbeing of their staff, in order to address workplace stress and turnover. ABSTRACT: This article examines the impact of leadership on the behaviour of one type of street level bureaucrat (SLB): police officers’ wellbeing and turnover intentions. The findings address a gap in understanding how authentic leadership practices affect SLBs who undertake emotional labour. The methods involved analysing 220 surveys from Italian police officers using structural equation modelling. The findings show moderate-to-low mean scores for authentic leadership and police officers’ relationship with their supervisor, and that these variables were significant in explaining wellbeing and turnover intention outcomes. The implication of the research is that continual subjection to poor levels of leadership and management support will erode wellbeing, placing police officers are at a higher risk of negative mental health outcomes over time.



Access Rights

subscription content