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Using positivity, transformational leadership and empowerment to combat employee negativity

James B. Avey (College of Business and Economics, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington, USA)
Larry W. Hughes (College of Business and Technology, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, Nebraska, USA)
Steven M. Norman (Mesa State College, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA)
Kyle W. Luthans (College of Business and Technology, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, Nebraska, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 7 March 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to hypothesize and test a conceptual model linking concepts of leadership and positive organizational behavior to a reduction in employee negativity, with empowerment as an important mediator in the causal relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

A heterogeneous sample of 341 working adults completed survey measures as two separate points in time. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to validate psychometric properties of instruments, and path analysis using structural equation modeling software was used to test hypotheses.

Findings

As hypothesized, both transformational leadership (β=0.27) and positive psychological capital (hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism) (β=0.61) were significantly related to feelings of empowerment. Empowerment was significantly related to intentions to quit (β=−0.38) but not employee cynicism. Empowerment also fully mediated the relationship between the independent variables and intentions to quit.

Research limitations/implications

A convenience sampling method limited the generalizability of results. Causal and longitudinal research designs would extend findings discussed here. Implications for management are significant in terms of countering employee negativity using leadership processes, employee selection and development.

Originality/value

This study offers the first conceptual model integrating emerging concepts from positive organizational behavior, in the form of positive psychological capacities, with validated leadership models (transformational leadership). Both were suggested to influence negative outcomes, with empowerment as an effective mediator of these relationships. Findings generally support the hypotheses advanced herein.

Keywords

Citation

Avey, J.B., Hughes, L.W., Norman, S.M. and Luthans, K.W. (2008), "Using positivity, transformational leadership and empowerment to combat employee negativity", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 110-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730810852470

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited