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The executive mind: leader self‐talk, effectiveness and strain

Steven G. Rogelberg (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Logan Justice (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Phillip W. Braddy (Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)
Samantha C. Paustian‐Underdahl (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Eric Heggestad (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
and
Linda Shanock (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Benjamin E. Baran (Haile/US Bank College of Business, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky, USA)
Tammy Beck (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Shawn Long (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Ashley Andrew (Department of Organizational Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
David G. Altman (Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)
John W. Fleenor (Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 8 February 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

The theoretical and practical criticality of self‐talk for leader success receives extensive multidisciplinary discussion, without a great deal of empirical research given the challenge of assessing actual self‐talk. The purpose of this paper is to advance research and theory on self‐leadership by examining leader self‐talk and its relationship to effectiveness and strain.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 189 senior executives' self‐addressed, future‐oriented letters were collected. The executives wrote these letters to themselves for their own personal development; thus, the language used represented a form of naturally occurring self‐talk. Two types of self‐talk were coded: constructive and dysfunctional. Supervisor and direct report ratings of leadership of others and creativity and self‐ratings of job strain were collected.

Findings

Extensive variability among leaders in constructive self‐talk was found. Exemplars of constructive and dysfunctional self‐talk are presented. Constructive self‐talk positively related to effective leadership of others and creativity/originality as evaluated by subordinates and superiors and was negatively related to job strain. Dysfunctional self‐talk related negatively to creativity/originality.

Originality/value

In addition to illustrating the types of self‐talk used by leaders, research is extended by providing some of the first empirical evidence of how leaders' free‐flowing thoughts are related to their effectiveness and their overall well‐being, lending direct support to a principal proposition from the self‐leadership framework.

Keywords

Citation

Rogelberg, S.G., Justice, L., Braddy, P.W., Paustian‐Underdahl, S.C., Heggestad, E., Shanock, L., Baran, B.E., Beck, T., Long, S., Andrew, A., Altman, D.G. and Fleenor, J.W. (2013), "The executive mind: leader self‐talk, effectiveness and strain", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 183-201. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683941311300702

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited