This qualitative study aimed to gain an understanding of relational leadership strategies currently employed among banking leaders developing quality workplace relationships. A quality workplace environment is where individual differences are nurtured, information is not suppressed or spun but instead openly shared, and where employees feel the company adds value to them, rather than only expecting it from them (Goffee & Jones; 2013; Katz & Miller, 2014; Tan, 2019).

This study employed Uhl-Bien’s (2006) relational leadership model to explore the research question: What are relational leadership strategies commonly practiced by banking leaders to foster quality workplace environments? The study employed a qualitative design utilizing narratives. Narrative inquiry provided a method to discover leadership strategies. Narratives from publicly available and accessible sources were collected and analyzed.

An extensive literature review highlighted authors pointing out distinctions that correspond to relational leaders’ characteristics as culture creators (Antonakis, 2012; Bass, 1985, 1999; Burns, 1978; Greenleaf, 1977; Hollander, 1992, 2010), influencers (Bass, 1985, 1999; Burns, 1978; House, 1976), inclusive (Dachler & Hosking, 1995a; Dansereau et al., 1975; Graen, 2016), and engaging (Antonakis, 2012; Carter et al., 2015; Dewar et al., 2020; Hosking & Pluut, 2010; Katz & Miller, 2014). Using narrative inquiry, 12 strategies were identified after reviewing the data. The strategies gleaned were reviewed for alignment with relational leaders’ key characteristics as culture creators, influencers, inclusive, and engaging.

The emergent themes indicate a connection between relational leaders’ strategies for creating quality workplace environments and Uhl-Bien’s (2006) relational leadership theory. To create culture, relational leaders use clear language; they are forward-looking and build trust through feedback and collaboration. As influencers, relational leaders use empathy and emotional connection; they are honest and transparent and use straight talk when communicating. As inclusive, relational leaders create diverse teams; they focus on teamwork and people development and create psychological safety. Finally, as engagers, relational leaders empower employees; they establish connections and encourage collaboration and communication.

Further research would provide additional insights. Furthermore, research including banking institutions outside the U.S. might produce information on relational leadership practices worldwide. Last, a quantitative or a mixed-methods study may yield critical supplementary data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Leadership; Work environment; Banks and banking--United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Laura Hyatt