To explore the association between nursing home managers' leadership, job strain and social support as perceived by direct care staff in nursing homes.It is well known that aged care staff experience high levels of job strain, and that aged care staff experiencing job strain are exposed to increased risk for adverse health effects. Leadership styles have been associated with job strain in the literature; however, the impact of perceived leadership on staff job strain and social support has not been clarified within nursing home contexts.This study had a cross-sectional design.Participating staff (n = 3,605) completed surveys which included questions about staff characteristics, valid and reliable measures of nursing home managers' leadership, perceived job strain and social support. Statistical analyses of correlations and multiple regression analysis with interaction terms were conducted.Nursing home managers' leadership were significantly associated with lower level of job strain and higher level of social support among direct care staff. A multiple regression analysis including an interaction term indicated individual and joint effects of nursing home managers' leadership and social support on job strain.Nursing home managers' leadership and social support were both individually and in combination associated with staff perception of lesser job strain. Thus, nursing home managers' leadership are beneficial for the working situation and strain of staff.Promoting a supporting work environment through leadership is an important implication for nursing home managers as it can influence staff perception of job strain and social support within the unit. By providing leadership, offering support and strategies towards a healthy work environment, nursing home managers can buffer adverse health effects among staff.