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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2007

P Linley, Reena Govindji and Michael West

To readers of the popular press, the words ‘positive psychology’ may conjure up images of happiness gurus and people having their feet massaged, their heads resting…

Abstract

To readers of the popular press, the words ‘positive psychology’ may conjure up images of happiness gurus and people having their feet massaged, their heads resting peacefully on pink, fluffy clouds. But in this article, our aim is to demonstrate how the new science of positive psychology speaks powerfully to ‐ and has much to contribute to ‐ the development of leadership and the practices and processes of organisations, whether in the public or private sectors. Much of our work is concerned with the applications of this new field, and particularly with building strengths‐based organisations. A key pillar of this work is around enabling strengths‐based leadership, and provides our focus for this article.

Details

International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, vol. 3 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9886

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2015

David Giles

This article aims to report on the findings from a research project that explored a school’s changing ideological storyline with the appointment of a new Principal and the…

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to report on the findings from a research project that explored a school’s changing ideological storyline with the appointment of a new Principal and the Board of Trustees’ intention to move towards a strengths-based approach to education. Following the school’s dialogue and decision-making over a three-year period enabled the identification of a range of competitive processes between the dominant and an emergent ideology within the school.

Design/methodology/approach

Using an ideological framework proposed by Meighan et al. (2007), the research focussed on the development and maintenance of shared understandings within each ideology. For the purpose of this article, the participants have been limited to those in school governance, the school’s senior leadership team and some teachers across a three-year period. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews, online surveys and informal observations and analysed through interpretive and hermeneutic processes.

Findings

The findings show the subtleties and nuances of two dominant and competing ideologies that represented different philosophies for education: a deficit discourse of progressive ideals and a strengths-based ideology of education. The existing and dominant ideology is challenged by the determination and moral purpose of the principal with the unanimous support from those in governance. In due process, the school emerged into a creative enterprise through the adoption of shared understandings that were underscored by a strengths-based ideology.

Originality/value

It is incumbent upon school principals to notice the shifting organisational storylines within their schools and communities and act in a manner that realises the moral imperative of schooling for the students (Fullan, 2011). This article opens specific ideological processes that have appreciatively moved a school towards pedagogical excellence and a repurposing of the organisation for the students’ sake.

Details

International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Ronald Warren

There has been a decades-long debate in the leadership development field about the validity and efficacy of strengths-based assessment. This debate is not about…

Abstract

Purpose

There has been a decades-long debate in the leadership development field about the validity and efficacy of strengths-based assessment. This debate is not about recognizing the value in “a conversation about what’s right with people […] we were tired of living in a world that revolved around fixing our weaknesses”. Most agree that there is value in building on strengths.

Design/methodology/approach

The debate is fueled by psychologists, recognized experts in understanding human performance who dismiss Gallup – and other strengths-based leadership firms – who falsely promote the assertion “what’s more, we had discovered that people had several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing strengths instead of correcting weaknesses”. This is not true – no matter how aggressively strengths-based firms market this notion.

Findings

Strength-based approaches, especially as an exclusive approach, is overtly blind to the critical fact that most people show a mix of strengths and weaknesses – performance drivers and derailers – and the whole mix interacts. So besides missing the intended mark of increasing a professional’s skills in leadership, teamwork and communications, there are significant costs to this approach that vary from missed opportunities to downright dangerous.

Originality/value

Stanford Business School Professor Jeffrey Pfeiffer drives this point home in his book Leadership BS, a bruising critique of the leadership development industry. Pfeiffer correctly states that the leadership development industry is driven more by marketing and sales imperatives than the application of peer-reviewed scientific studies – which a century ago transformed the medical model and led to the successful eradication of many diseases. Unfortunately, the leadership development industry is driven by marketing and sales imperatives instead of good science. In fact, this may only accelerate in the future as many top assessment firms have been bought by public companies – often in the staffing industry – that seek ways to increase their earnings, focused more on shareholder returns than the science of performance.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2012

Nicky Garcea, Alex Linley, Katarzyna Mazurkiewicz and Trudy Bailey

This article sets out to highlight some of the positive outcomes in the development of rising female leaders. Latest research shows that organizations and women need to be…

Abstract

Purpose

This article sets out to highlight some of the positive outcomes in the development of rising female leaders. Latest research shows that organizations and women need to be aware of the challenges hindering the realization of female talent. The article provides an overview of how the strengths approach can help address these challenges through its integration into future female leader development programs. It also presents a pilot case study of strengths‐based development from Thomson Reuters, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.

Design/methodology/approach

Thomson Reuters explored using the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology's (Capp) 3S‐P model of talent development in relation to the development of female leaders. The 3S‐P model looks at the effect that working on strengths, strategy and situation has on performance. As part of this exploration, Capp's 4M model of strengths development was also used in a coaching and development environment to help delegates align their strengths to their organizational objectives.

Findings

The pilot, which was targeted at emerging female future leaders, showed that the strengths‐based “Women in Leadership” program at Thomson Reuters was just as effective for delegates who received the program face‐to‐face as those who received the training virtually, and demonstrated that strengths awareness had an impact on their capacity to deliver their goals and ability to influence.

Practical implications

Strengths‐based emerging female leadership development provides an effective and reliable methodology for developing talent at this level and helps ensure that future female leaders can align their unique strengths profile to their goals and career aspirations.

Originality/value

Thomson Reuters is the first organization to take an explicit strengths‐based approach to the development of its rising female leaders. It is also one of the few organizations to maximize the use of virtual technology in order to develop women at this level in locations around the world. This approach is consistent with the organization's commitment to developing future leaders who demonstrate global mind set and embrace technology to effectively communicate and influence virtually.

Details

Strategic HR Review, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-4398

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2005

Jay R. Tombaugh

Traditional management techniques and change management interventions are deficit‐based. That is, they often focus on “fixing” what is wrong in our organizations by…

Abstract

Purpose

Traditional management techniques and change management interventions are deficit‐based. That is, they often focus on “fixing” what is wrong in our organizations by solving problems. Maintaining a committed and motivated workforce, open to learning, growth and positive change, is difficult, however, when the daily focus is on what's not working.

Design/methodology/approach

Growing evidence suggests that positive leadership and a strengths‐based approach to long‐term organizational change have a greater impact on performance and profitability.

Findings

Positive leaders develop such traits as optimism, self‐confidence, compassion, emotional intelligence, loyalty, and trustworthiness. Moreover, they promote a strengths‐based organizational culture that emphasizes possibilities rather than problems.

Practical implications

We need to develop leaders who can identify the organization's “root causes of success”, and build on those strengths for future performance.

Originality/value

The article will be of value to all those involved in leadership development.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Article
Publication date: 8 September 2020

He Ding and Enhai Yu

The aim of the present study was to examine the association of subordinate-oriented strengths-based leadership (SSBL) with subordinates’ job performance (task performance…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the present study was to examine the association of subordinate-oriented strengths-based leadership (SSBL) with subordinates’ job performance (task performance and innovative behavior) as well as the meditating role of supervisor–subordinate guanxi (SSG) in these relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

Self-report data on SSBL, SSG, task performance and innovative behavior were gathered from 642 Chinese employees working in various Chinese enterprises. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data.

Findings

The results indicated that SSBL is positively related to subordinates’ job performance (task performance and innovative behavior). Furthermore, SSG partially mediated the relationship of SSBL with task performance and with innovative behavior.

Originality/value

This study is the first to empirically examine the relationship of SSBL with job performance. In addition, this study adds to the knowledge on the SSBL–job performance linkage by investigating the mediational effect of SSG on the relationship.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 41 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

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Article
Publication date: 4 July 2016

Sabre Cherkowski and Keith Walker

The purpose of this paper is to identify and elaborate on the construct of flourishing in schools as understood through the stories and explanations provided by a small…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify and elaborate on the construct of flourishing in schools as understood through the stories and explanations provided by a small group of public school principals. Framed within a positive organizational perspective, the specific objectives of this study are: to identify how school leaders understand and experience flourishing in their roles and in their schools; to explore the conditions, catalysts and/or galvanizing forces of flourishing in schools.

Design/methodology/approach

The researchers used an electronic Delphi survey to gain a qualitative description of the understandings and impressions of the construct of flourishing from the perspective of practicing school administrators in one school district in central British Columbia. Delphi responses were aggregated after each round and thematically analysed to determine patterns and trends for further examination through progressive iterations of the survey administered via e-mail. The final set of data were then analysed for patterns, trends and themes that were compared and contrasted against research findings in the literature underpinning the theoretical framework for this study.

Findings

While there was no single definition of what it means to flourish in the work of school leadership, shared descriptions from these principals indicated that they feel a sense of flourishing when they are working together with teachers from a sense of purpose and passion and in a spirit of play to cultivate learning climates that reflect a shared ownership for improving educational experiences for students. These initial findings provoke thinking about the potentials and benefits of shifting the focus of research and practice in educational leadership towards more positive, strengths-based perspectives.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size was small, and so generalizing findings beyond this study is unreasonable. Further, because the researchers separated participant information from responses in order to safeguard anonymity and to aggregate the responses to provide these back to participants for their further elaboration and reflections, they were unable to determine whether particular responses were connected to context (elementary or secondary, size of school, years of experience as an administrator), gender or other demographic factors. However, the use of the electronic Delphi instrument provided insights on engaging school principals in thoughtful inquiry as participants, while respecting the busy workload and time constraints associated with the work of school principals.

Practical implications

Attending to well-being in the work of leading schools is an under-researched area of educational leadership. This study is an example of how researching educational leadership from a positive, strengths-based, human development perspective may provide useful insights for supporting principals and other educators to notice, nurture and sustain a sense of flourishing in their work and across the school. While further research is needed to examine the construct of flourishing across a diverse range of school organizations, the findings from this study provoke thinking about the benefits of studying what goes well, what brings vitality and a more full sense of humanity in the work of leading school organizations.

Originality/value

The researchers use a new perspective for examining and explaining the phenomenon of flourishing in schools, a positive organizational research orientation. The use of this strengths-based, positive, human development approach to examining the construct of flourishing from the perspective of school principals can offer new insights and strategies for attending to well-being as an integral part of the work of leading schools.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 54 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2020

Vikas Rai Bhatnagar, Ajay K. Jain, Shiv S. Tripathi and Sabir Giga

With growing stress at work, the need for scholars to focus on humanizing organizations is pressing. Scholars agree five factors lead to humanizing organizations. This…

Abstract

Purpose

With growing stress at work, the need for scholars to focus on humanizing organizations is pressing. Scholars agree five factors lead to humanizing organizations. This study dwells upon one factor – employee strengths at work (ESAW) – problematizes, identifies the gap in its conceptualization, deploys critical social systems theory and reconceptualizes the construct of ESAW by taking key contextual factors into consideration. Thereafter, this study aims to develop a conceptual model and makes propositions related to the mediating effects of ESAW on the association of leadership style and employee performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Aimed at contributing to humanizing organizations, this conceptual study problematizes the construct of competency and the trait-based conceptualization of strengths in identifying gaps in the construct of competency for humanizing organizations. Next, the study deploys the technique of construct mixology for evolving the new construct of ESAW. To empirically test ESAW in the field, the authors deploy the critical social systems theory and develop a conceptual model. Further, drawing upon the conceptual model and the extant literature, the authors develop many propositions for enabling future research.

Findings

The study develops a new construct of ESAW that holds the promise of contributing to humanizing organizations. By embedding the current trait-based conceptualization of employee strengths to the context of the organization, the new five-factor construct of ESAW is indigenous to the field of organization science, hence, has a higher relevance. The study develops a conceptual model and makes propositions for empirically testing the new construct in the field that future researchers may focus upon.

Research limitations/implications

There is a compelling need for humanizing organizations. This conceptual study attempts to bring back the focus of researchers on humanizing organizations, within the framework of the market-driven economy. The new construct of ESAW has huge potential for theory-building and empirical testing.

Practical implications

Deployment of ESAW will contribute to humanizing organizations. The construct of ESAW is relevant to practice as it has evolved from the domain of organization science, unlike the earlier trait-based conceptualization of strength that emerged in personality psychology. Practitioners can deploy the construct of ESAW and achieve the two seemingly conflicting objectives of enabling employee well-being while also ensuring superior performance.

Social implications

Any contribution toward humanizing organizations forebodes increasing the social capital and the personal well-being of employees. If employees are happy at work, their productivity increases. As per the broaden and build theory of Fredrickson, higher well-being and productivity at work creates a spiral of positivity that transcends the working life of an employee. Hence, the study has huge social implications at times when the social fabric is stretched because of multiple demands on an employee.

Originality/value

Constructs developed in other fields and adopted in organization science have less relevance than those evolved in the domain of organization science. Past deficient conceptualization and practices persist unless scholars logically challenge it an alternative and improved conceptualization provided. The new construct of ESAW uses the method of construct mixology after unravelling the assumptions that impedes humanizing organizations.

Details

Journal of Asia Business Studies, vol. 14 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1558-7894

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Book part
Publication date: 2 October 2019

Peter Bos, Marian Thunnissen and Katja Pardoen

Current TM literature shows a lack of empirical research on the actual implementation of TM as a mediating step in the TM process, and on the role of the line managers in…

Abstract

Current TM literature shows a lack of empirical research on the actual implementation of TM as a mediating step in the TM process, and on the role of the line managers in that stage. Bos, Thunnissen and Pardoen look into this ‘black box’ of TM and focus in their study on the role of line managers in the actual implementation of TM. In particular, the impact of the line manager’s leadership style on employee reactions to TM is investigated, as well as the constraints in the line manager’s role in executing TM. Their exploratory, quantitative study on the role of the line manager demonstrates that the line manager can support employees in deploying and developing their talents, and when they do so employees feel more empowered and committed to the job. Most line managers are willing to support their employees in developing and utilizing their talents, and that they think they have the capability of doing. However, the study shows that in many cases the line manager overestimates his/her actions regarding the mobilization of employee’s talents, and employees often have different perceptions of the line manager’s behaviour to TM than the line manager him/herself. The bigger the gap in perceptions, the more it has a negative effect on employees’ cognitive and affective reactions to TM. The authors call for more research on the role of the line manager in TM, and in particular on this gap in perceptions.

Details

Managing Talent: A Critical Appreciation
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-094-3

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2013

James Brook

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the adoption of strengths‐focused human resources (HR) can deliver measurable business returns, from hard results such as…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the adoption of strengths‐focused human resources (HR) can deliver measurable business returns, from hard results such as increased revenues and reduced costs, to “lead” indicators of future success: for example better customer engagement, improved morale, discretionary effort and personal wellbeing. The author, from specialist provider, Strengths Partnership, aims to explain how to identify and extract the “strengths DNA” from each individual and to build a convincing business case for the use of strengths, in all its different contexts, within the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach

The central methodology in this paper is extracted from Strengths Partnership's leading Strengthscope assessment tool, designed to help individuals understand their standout strengths; the unintended consequences that may arise when strengths go into overdrive; the extent to which they are able to productively apply their strengths at work; and how visible their strengths are to others. The information is based on seven years of research conducted by Strengths Partnership into identifying, optimizing and developing strengths in organizations, supported by a growing body of published research and literature in positive psychology and strengths‐based approaches to organizational effectiveness.

Findings

If they can surmount the challenge of how to embed this approach into their HR life cycle and core HR activities, organizations will see a major paradigm shift from an emphasis on fixing weaknesses to one that encourages a person's natural energies and inclinations in the pursuit of success.

Research limitations/implications

HR and learning and development professionals need a different set of principles and tools to get the most out of the strengths approach and to ensure it becomes part of the organization's DNA. Without these, the approach is unlikely to deliver real value beyond the initial feel‐good factor that invariably arises during an initial strengths training program.

Originality/value

More research and tool development is needed in this area; however the ideas and approaches in this article will help to embed the strengths approach throughout the employee life cycle – from hiring and selection, through team development, development and culture change.

Details

Strategic HR Review, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-4398

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