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Why it is important for organization to promote self-leadership among employees to manage their wellbeing and productivity while working remotely from COVID-19 perspective? (Advert Reference: RDF22/BL/LHRM/ALI)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Dr Murad Ali  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused number of changes globally, working remotely in the context of workplace. Scholarly community and practitioners strive to identify the ways to mitigate the negative impact of this pandemic on every aspect of human life. Likewise, management scholars attempt to investigate the most effective leadership styles that lead to increase employees mental and psychological wellbeing which in turns increase employees’ motivation and productive. Numerous studies have identified several leadership styles such as participative leadership, adaptive leadership, transformational leadership, identity-based leadership, and supportive leadership styles are critical to improve employees’ wellbeing and performance during COVID-19 crises. For instance, Plessis and Keyter (2020) describe several traits of autocratic leadership style as beneficial during the pre-crisis stage, whereas other traits can be effective in post-crisis stage. Usman et al., (2021) propose the use of participative leadership as important for employees’ workplace thriving and helping behaviours. Irshad et al., (2021) found that safety specific transformational leadership enhances psychological well-being among healthcare workers during COVID-19. Um-e-Rubab et al., (2021) hold that supportive leadership predicted employees' physical, social, and psychological well-being. Bajaba et al., (2021) endorsed the role of adaptive personality of leaders as important to improve employees’ wellbeing during COVID-19 pandemic. However, management and organization scholars including; Houghton & Neck (2002); Gazor, (2012); and Siebdrat, Hoegl, & Ernst, (2009) hold that self-leadership is useful for work arrangements where employees work remotely and the influence of leaders is decreased. Particularly, self-leadership refers to the adoption of internal follower instead of external boss perspective (Manz, 2015Neck & Houghton, 2006Neck & Manz, 2012), it allows individuals to control their behaviour, influence and lead themselves through behavioural and cognitive (self-efficacy) strategies (Manz et al., 2013). Taking lead from these studies, the current study will investigate the research question: why it is important for organizations to promote self-leadership among their employees to develop behaviours and cognitive abilities that foster self-leadership skills among themselves so that they can lead themselves by developing plans, motivating themselves and achieving their goals while working remotely in a challenging situation like COVID-19 pandemic. Self-leadership is not only important in the context of current COVID-19 perspective, but it is also crucial for the organization to provide more flexible work arrangement to employees, reduce their dependence upon supervisors, reduce organizational cost among others benefits.

This study will use quantitative research approach and the data will be collected through structured survey questionnaires from employees with diverse socio-economic background, working in different organizations particularly those employees who are currently working remotely or worked remotely during COVID-19 pandemic. The data will be analysed using rigorous statistical tools such as partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) via SmartPLS to test hypotheses and extract policy recommendations. The study will offer useful policy recommendations to the scholarly and practice community to use promote self-leadership among their employees to keep themselves motivated during times of crises and uncertainties to achieve good wellbeing and performance.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/LHRM/ALI) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Principal Supervisor – Murad Ali

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


The moderating effect of supervisor–subordinate guanxi on the relationship between transformational leadership and organizational effectiveness
Ali, M., Sheikh, A., Ali, I., Jinji, P. & Sumbal, M., 2 Apr 2020, In: Journal of East-West Business. 26, 2, p. 161-192 31 p.
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