Tag Archives: leadership

Adaptive Leadership


“There is a desperate hope that people in authority know what they’re doing” (Marty Linsky)

In my September blog, Bloated with Information, I commented that executives can feel ineffective when their organisation values having a ‘big brain’ (being the expert holder of information, facts and knowledge) more highly than it values other skills such as relationship management, influencing, visioning, innovation and teamwork.

Executives can also feel ineffective when they believe that being in a leadership role means they need to know how to do everything. This sense of ineffectiveness is heightened when the work is complex, when there is no clear, discernible path. This is when executives are faced with ‘adaptive challenges’.

In adaptive challenges there is “no known solution – the skills and answers are outside your repertoire. Adaptive challenges are those you have to grow into solving and require mobilizing people’s hearts and minds to operate differently.” (Cambridge Leadership Associates).

This contrasts with the comfort of being skilled in solving technical problems i.e. problems which have a known solution and can be solved by an authority or expert.

“The most common leadership mistake is treating adaptive challenges as if they were technical problems.” (Cambridge Leadership Associates)

Adaptive Challenges

Marty Linsky is a leading expert in Adaptive Leadership. He is an adjunct lecturer in public policy for the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School.

Earlier this month the team at the Australian Public Service Commission’s Strategic Centre for Leadership, Learning and Development brought Marty Linsky to Canberra to speak at a number of meetings and seminar sessions.

The session I attended on 15th November came at a perfect time. Two years ago I attended a 6-day “Leading Learning” program run by Social Leadership Australia. The program was based on Adaptive Leadership. Some of what I learnt has faded, so Marty Linsky’s session was an energising refresher.

The timing of the session was also perfect because the Australian Public Sector is facing a range of adaptive challenges around uncertainty, fiscal restraint, change, new government, loss, staffing reductions and so on. It’s an uncomfortable place for executives, many of whom are trying to navigate these adaptive challenges as if they are technical problems. Marty’s session reminded me to be more conscious of the issues clients raise when we work together. Which are the technical problems; which are the adaptive challenges? Are we too quick to fix the surface issues? Is there much more to this? Do we need to approach this differently?

Marty’s Thoughts

Here are just some of Marty’s thoughts from the session. They caused me to reflect, and I hope you too enjoy reflecting on them. Some are direct quotes, some are a distillation of Marty’s comments.

On risk

  • “Leadership is about taking risks on behalf of something you care about”
  • “What risks will you take on behalf of increasing the quality of leadership in Australia?”
  • “It’s about taking smart risks in the pursuit of a committed cause”
  • “To do our work well we have to be prepared to blow things up every now and then…it’s excruciatingly painful when this happens”

On leadership

  • “There is a desperate hope that people in authority know what they’re doing”
  • Leadership is not about having the big job, it is about behaviour.
  • “The work you do is an act of leadership.”
  • Is there a dependence on people who are in authority positions? Do we pass responsibility over to them; is the issue subordinated to them? When do we need to show personal leadership and take responsibility instead of transferring the problem to the authority figure?
  • When there is a diagnosis it’s the community and system that needs to work together to do the hard work.
  • How can we help people to face up to their most difficult problems?
  • You should not pretend to know what you’re doing.

On loss

  • People are looking for comfort, they want to conserve the status quo.
  • “Adaptation is a process of loss”, it will not be easy.
  • There will be pain and conflict: leadership is not about taking this away but helping people to work through it.

On shared values

  • Don’t expect people to share your values. Your job is to get everyone to work on the job despite differences in values. “Don’t be precious [about shared values] when mobilising people to get there”.

On optimism

  • “Leadership requires us to be relentlessly optimistic and at the same time brutally realistic about what it will take to achieve purpose. Optimism helps the realism from becoming cynical; realism helps the optimism from becoming naïve”
  • Don’t lose your heart and optimism because you’re beaten down.
  • Will you survive by keeping your head down? This means you’ve lost your heart.

Leaders Set the Tone

Finally, I’d like to end this last blog for 2013 with a repeat of part of my May 2011 blog. This is from the work of researcher Malcolm Higgs, and meshes nicely with the thoughts above.

“In successful change programs Higgs and his colleagues found that change leaders set the tone and overall direction, yet they allowed people to become responsible for the change and to adjust the plan as the implementation unfolded. That is, leaders were doing change with people, not to people. Analysis revealed that these leaders had four change leadership behaviours:

  1. Attractor behaviours: connecting, tuning in, building the story, seeing patterns, serving the higher purpose, self awareness, sense-making.
  2. Edge and tension behaviours: establishing reality, constancy, and persistence, challenging assumptions, creating discomfort, setting a high bar.
  3. Container behaviours: setting boundaries, expectations, and values, expressing confidence, affirming, encouraging, showing empathy, creating trust and ownership, making it safe to have hard conversations and to take risks, creating alignment at the top.
  4. Movement behaviours: creating systems of possibility, learning, and difference, supporting creativity, freedom to be open and vulnerable, freedom to break established patterns, and powerful inquiry.
    Higgs points out that these four change leadership behaviours are supported by the use of Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry, for example, by collaborative, appreciative inquiry into what is working well, by an understanding of the Broaden and Build Theory of positive emotions, by a focus on strengths together with a balancing use of rules, by creating challenging goals, and by having hard conversations.”

All the best for the rest of 2013. Enjoy your Christmas, Holiday and New Year break.


Excellence, Values, Virtues and Strengths

One of the great pleasures of my work is seeing the effects on people of conversations which engage strength, possibility, openness and curiosity.

They point out that these reflections bring clarity, insight, renewed optimism and motivation. They are reminded about ‘what’s really important’ to them and they ‘discover new ways to lift their performance and to ‘solve seemingly intractable problems’. These ‘conversations of possibility’ occur in my one-on-one Executive Coaching meetings and in facilitated small group and project team workshops. Clients reflect deeply to explore the implications, possibilities and meanings of moments of professional and personal significance throughout their life. The work we do together using a strengths-based approach to developing enhanced leadership includes questions not normally attended to in a typical working day.

It could be said that clients are reflecting on their moments of ‘virtuousness’ or ‘positive deviance’. But I rarely use those words in practice, and those of you with whom I worked might never have heard me use those terms.

Virtuousness and Positive Deviance

The theorists, if they were with us and observing these conversations, would say that people are talking about their moments of ‘positive deviance’ i.e. displays of excellence and of virtuousness which involve acting from values, virtues and strengths. Academics and researchers have shown that when people behave in this way organisations perform better and are more successful, including in times of setbacks and difficulty. The people themselves are able to find better solutions to problems. New insights create generative change.

Organisational virtuousness refers to collective behaviours that extend beyond what is normally expected, and these are depicted in Kim Cameron’s Positive Deviance Continuum. For example negative relationships are ‘harmful, normal relationship behaviour is ‘helpful’, and at the positive extreme of the continuum relationships are noted as ‘honouring’. Cameron noted that (and I am paraphrasing here) most leaders pay almost exclusive attention to the gap between what is going wrong and the mid-point on the continuum, represented by an absence of problems. On the other hand, the gap between the mid-point and the far right (extraordinarily positive performance) receives far less attention. This is the area which motivates change in organisations based on the pursuit of a greater good, a condition of virtuousness, the best that human beings aspire to be.

For more about the academics’ work on virtuousness, positive deviance, and Kim Cameron’s continuum, see these three articles which I wrote over the recent months:

Virtuous Organisations (August 2012)

Positive Deviance (September 2012)

Kim Cameron’s Deviance Continuum (October 2012)

Listening and Leadership

This month is a topic of great interest to me and relevant to my work. Listening is something I’m always practising and trying to improve, so when I saw “The Executive’s Guide to Good Listening” in February’s McKinsey Quarterly I immediately took a look at it to see what I could learn.

From my interpretation of the McKinsey Quarterly article, I observed that good listening is marked by a range of characteristics and behaviours.

The characteristics include:
– Being open-minded and non-judgmental
– Having a possibility mindset
– Being quiet and bringing quietness to the mind, using silence, relaxing
– Being patient
– Being conscious and building perspective
– Being humble (controlling that pesky ego)

The suggested behaviours include:
– Encourage healthy and honest debate.
– Engage with interest and curiosity.
– Show respect.
– Acknowledge others’ unique skills, abilities, knowledge, and contributions.
– Let go of ego.
– Let go of fear (of not knowing, of not having the best idea).
– Slow down.
– Don’t put down or belittle others’ opinions.
– Question courageously.
– Pay attention: notice when your moods impede the flow of the conversation.
– Focus conversations on a bigger purpose and meaning, not on self-interest.

It struck me that if people practised some of these tips they would also experience greater strength, well-being and resilience…some great unintended by-products. For example, being courageous, patient, respectful, open-minded and non-judgemental enhances our positive emotions, which have an impact on both the listener and the speaker. On the converse, practising one of the best well-being ‘interventions’, mindfulness, improves a person’s ability to listen well. If you’d like to read more about my thoughts on the connections between well-being and listening, see this article, “Listening and Health”.

Reference: McKinsey article “The executive’s guide to better listening” by Bernard T. Ferrari

Do You Have a High Performing Workplace?

At the Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) Leadership Conference in August this year the audience was provided a taste of results from research which identified the leadership, culture and management practices that characterise high performing workplaces. The project was also featured in the October 2011 issue of AFR’s Boss Magazine. The 65-page research report is available online from SKE, Society for Knowledge Economics. Links are at the end of this article.
What follows are some of the key points, extracts, quotes and highlights from the report.

The Leadership, Culture and Management Practices of High Performing Workplaces in Australia: The High Performing Workplaces Index

This 2.5 year project was funded by the Workplace Innovation Fund within the Federal Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) in December 2009 and project managed by the Society for Knowledge Economics (SKE). The research began in March 2010 and was undertaken by a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australian National University (ANU), Macquarie University and Copenhagen Business School (CBS).
The researchers worked with 78 Australian organisations from the services sector to identify and analyse what constitutes a high performing workplace. 5,661 employees participated in the research (senior executives, middle management, frontline management and non-managerial employees).
16% of the sample (12 organisations) are rated in the HPW category and 17% (13 organisations) are in Lower Performing Workplace (LPW) category.

The HPW (High Performing Workplaces) Index

Organisational performance was assessed using 18 performance measures in six categories:
1. Innovation
2. Employee Experience
3. Fairness
4. Leadership
5. Customer
6. Profitability and Productivity

Highlights / excerpts from the report

Productivity: HPWs are more productive and are nearly three times more profitable than LPWs
Innovation: HPWs have higher levels of innovation outputs, generate more new ideas, have in place more mechanisms for capturing ideas from employees, have more formal processes for assessing and responding to ideas from employees, are more successful at transforming ideas into new products/services, processes and dedicate significantly more resources to fund new strategic initiatives.

Employee Experience: HPWs have lower levels of employee turnover, higher levels of job satisfaction and employee commitment; employees are more involved with their organisation, exert extra effort in their jobs, and are more likely to tell their friends that their organisation is a great place to work. Employees have lower levels of anxiety, worry, fear, depression and feelings of inadequacy and higher levels of positive emotions, such as feeling valued, proud, cheerful, optimistic and loved.

Fairness: HPWs have higher levels of fairness. These include distribution of rewards and fair implementation of company procedures and policies by managers.

Leadership: Supervisors and managers in HPWs spend more time and effort managing their people, have clear values and ‘practice what they preach’, give employees opportunities to lead work assignments and activities, encourage employee development and learning, welcome criticism and feedback as learning opportunities, give increased recognition and acknowledgement to employees, foster involvement and cooperation amongst employees, have a clear vision and goals for the future, and are innovative and encourage employees to think about problems in new ways.

Customer Experience: HPWs are better at understanding customer needs and are curious to learn new things from customers. They act on customers’ suggestions and feedback; do whatever it takes to create value for customers, and are better at achieving their customer satisfaction goals.
“This suggests that any organisation wishing to transition to a HPW would have to improve the management, development and measurement of its intangible assets.” (page 9 of the report)


The report details questions/statements used for all six categories. For example, Employee Experience and Leadership are listed below.

Employee Experience – the HPW Index comprises these areas:

Effort: I am willing to put a great deal of effort beyond that normally expected to help this organisation be successful
Effort: I would accept almost any type of job assignment in order to keep working for this organisation
Effort: This organisation really inspires the very best in me in the way of job performance
Membership: I tell my friends that this organisation is a great place to work
Membership: I am proud to tell others that I am part of this organisation
Membership: For me this is the best of all possible organisations to work for
Values and Purpose: My personal values and the organisation’s values are very similar
Values and Purpose: I really care about the fate of this organisation
Values and Purpose: I believe in the overall purpose of this organisation
Turnover Intention: I do not plan on leaving this organisation soon
Job Satisfaction: Overall, how satisfied are you with your current job?

Also measured were positive emotions (optimistic, proud, valued, loved, cheerful) and negative emotions (anxious, worried, depressed, inadequate, fearful). Positive emotions are much more prevalent in HPWs whereas negative emotions are more prevalent in LPWs.

The most prevalent emotions in HPWs are feeling proud, followed by feeling valued, optimistic and cheerful.

The greatest difference between HPWs and LPWs is in feeling proud, followed by feeling valued. Employees in HPWs are proud of their organisations and feel valued by their colleagues and, importantly, by their immediate supervisor.

Leadership – the HPW Index comprises these areas:
Authenticity: My immediate supervisor has a clear vision or goal for the future of this organisation
Authenticity: My immediate supervisor is clear about his/her values and demonstrates the values
Authenticity: My immediate supervisor is highly competent in his/her role as a leader of the organisation
Authenticity: My immediate supervisor responds well to feedback and criticism
Developmental: My immediate supervisor supports and encourages staff development and learning
Developmental: My immediate supervisor gives recognition and acknowledgement to staff
Developmental: My immediate supervisor fosters involvement and cooperation among staff
Developmental: My immediate supervisor is innovative and encourages thinking about problems in new ways
Developmental: My immediate supervisor gives people opportunities to lead work assignments and activities
People Management: My immediate supervisor prioritises people management as a number one priority

“High performing organisations are not just much more profitable and productive, they also perform better in many important “intangible attributes”, such as encouraging innovation, leadership of their people, and creating a fair workplace environment.” (Steve Vamoz, SKE President, from the report’s foreword)

“SKE president Steve Vamos says the report is a call to action. “It provides clear evidence that improving Australia’s productivity – or effectiveness at work and performance of our workplaces – is and will be largely a function of our commitment to developing leadership and management capabilities across organisations in our economy.” ” (AFR Boss Magazine, October 2011)

SKE, Society for Knowledge Economics
SKE media release and link to report
AFR Boss Magazine  – Boss Magazine is published on the second Friday of each month and provided free with the Australian Financial Review

Acknowledgement: Thank you AFR!

Empowerment and Leadership

Hi Everyone,

In the research article “Using positivity, transformational leadership and empowerment to combat employee negativity” (see full reference at the end of this article), the authors explore the interplay between positive organisational behaviour and transformational leadership and the impact on employee performance. The authors are particularly interested in how empowerment might play a meditating role.

The helpful descriptions of empowerment, transformational leadership and positive organisational behaviour provide timely reminders for leaders, managers and employees. Summarised below are some key points from the article.


The authors refer to the work of Gretchen Spreitzer and describe empowerment as a multidimensional construct which comprises:

  1. Meaning: “value of a work goal or purpose, judged in relation to one’s own ideal or standards”
  2. Competence: “an individual’s belief in his or her capability to perform activities with skill”
  3. Self determination: a sense of having “a choice in initiating and regulating actions”
  4. Impact: “the degree to which an individual can influence strategic, administrative or operating outcomes at work”

Few of you would be surprised about the benefits of being empowerment. The research supports what we have all experienced: “empowerment has been found to be related to effectiveness, less job strain and more job satisfaction, less anger and frustration on the job and greater organisational attachment.” For those of you familiar with the Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory and their concept of intrinsic motivation, you will see close similarities with Spreitzer’s work.

Psycap: Positive Organisational Behaviour

Positive Organisational Behaviour (POB) and Psychological Capital (Psycap) come from the work of Luthans, Youssef and colleagues. They describe one’s positive psychological state in terms of four components:

  1. Confidence / self efficacy: “the confidence to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks”
  2. Hope: “persevering toward goals and, when necessary, redirecting paths to goals in order to succeed”
  3. Optimism: “making a [realistic] positive attribution about succeeding now and in the future”
  4. Resilience: “when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond to attain success”

Psycap is described as a ‘common root resource’ and is similar to the work of other researchers who reinforce the importance of self esteem, self efficacy, locus of control and emotional stability as essential personal psychological resources.

Confidence, hope and optimism are described as proactive resources; resilience is a reactive resource. People with high Psycap put more effort into a task, are tenacious, have a realistic expectation of future success, are motivated, adapt well to change, and perform better at work. They experience lower levels cynicism at work in the face of change and are more likely to positively embrace the challenge of change. They are less likely to quit. Not only is this personally beneficial to the employee, it has a positive impact on organisational performance.

Psycap and empowerment

Personal power and autonomy are more possible if employees have high levels of Psycap. “Psycap seems directly related to Spreitzer’s impact component of empowerment….they perceive themselves to have a greater impact on their organisation.”. They can solve problems without waiting for direction, they have a sense of control and autonomy, they have confidence in their abilities. People who feel empowered have lower levels of cynicism and less intention to quit.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders have qualities which include:

  • “showing how the goals and values of the group, followers, leader and organisation are in basic agreement”
  • inspiring commitment to a mission or goal
  • providing individual attention their employees
  • “inspiring people to look beyond their self interest for the good of the group”

People who have a transformational leader have a greater sense of empowerment, improved performance and job satisfaction, lower levels of cynicism at work and are less likely to quit. This results in higher levels of organisational attachment. A win-win for everyone.

Suggestions which can be drawn from the research include:

  1. Help  your employees to be able to directly influence their own levels of empowerment at work by helping them to increase their psychological capital
  2. Help leaders to become more transformational, so as to positively affect employees’ levels of empowerment and performance

Questions to ponder, as you settle into the start of a new working year:

  • What can you do to become more transformational?
  • What is the state of your ‘Psycap’? Where can you improve?
  • How can you help your teams and colleagues to enhance their transformational leadership and their Psycap?

Our Mind and Our Strengths

In this last article for 2009, I bring to you a series of odds and ends, mostly about mindfulness and strengths.


You know how it is, when you turn your attention to something it appears to be everywhere.

I have written before about mindfulness and meditation:

April 2008  – Wellbeing, Meditation and Mindfulness

May 2006 –  Mindfulness

July 2004 –  Meditation, Mediation or Medication?

There are increasing amounts of information and research supporting this very powerful practice.
Here are just some bits of information which I think will interest you.

1. Time affluence and employee well-being:

There are numerous references to mindfulness research on a Positive Psychology discussion list of which I am a member.  One of the articles concerned “Time Affluence”.  The researchers, Tim Kasser and Ken Sheldon, two well-known names in the Positive Psychology world, suggest that time affluence is a topic worthy of consideration by business executives when considering how to improve employee wellbeing. Time affluence is an important predictor of subjective well-being.  This is not simply about the time needed to just ‘chill out’, it’s the time required to invest in meaningful work, to do a job well, and to cultivate meaningful and supportive relationships.  These are essential to our wellbeing. Time affluence enables us to stay in the present (“a psychological characteristic demonstrated by past research to benefit well-being”), to be mindful and to be fully aware of our experiences.  Time poverty affects “physical health, civic engagement and family involvement” and can lead to cognitive overload.

The authors conducted studies and found that time affluence related positively to subjective well-being, job satisfaction and satisfaction with life. They reported that “individuals who experienced more time affluence apparently report higher levels of subjective well-being in part because they experience more mindfulness and greater satisfaction of their psychological needs”.  They also found that “the benefits of time affluence also occur for people who want to be busy”.

“People higher in time affluence reported experiencing more autonomy, competence and feelings of intimacy with others and reported spending more time pursuing activities related to personal growth, connections to others, and physical fitness; such experiences and activities apparently helped to satisfy people’s psychological needs, to the benefit of their personal well-being.”

(Reference: “Time Affluence as a Path Toward Personal Happiness and Ethical Business Practice” by Tim Kasser and Ken Sheldon, published in Journal of Business Ethics, 2009, 84:243-255)

2. Mindful Leadership:

This is the name of a book written by Michael Carroll who was in Australia recently.  The Australian Financial Review’s Boss Magazine attended his mindfulness workshop in September 2009 and wrote about this experience in last week’s Boss Magazine  “Carroll talks of mindful meditation as “another different muscle altogether; one that has grown profoundly flabby in the modern world”. Carroll argues that we should meditate because it can preserve our sanity”.  (Nb – Boss Magazine, free with the Fin Review, is published on the second Friday each month from Feb-Nov, and the first Friday in Dec.)

I attended a workplace well-being conference in Sydney in September 2009 at which Michael Carroll also spoke. He had much wisdom to share, and many reminders of the dangers of speed, busy-ness and the pressure to achieve things fast. “Busy-ness suggests importance and relevance”; we want to get somewhere fast and we want to be someone fast: “in the effort to get somewhere we overlook the need to just be somewhere and to be who we are. Mind training helps to remember and learn how to simply be”.   “The speeding mind is the essence of fear, it’s just a form of panic”.

Carroll mentioned that mindfulness is taught in many professions including law and the military.  The military uses meditation to manage post traumatic stress disorder and “a diplomat in US Defence is combining Martin Seligman’s positive psychology practices and mindfulness”.

Carroll also mentioned that just 2-3 mins of silence and sitting quietly in the classroom radically improves childrens’ attention spans.

3. Jon Kabat-Zinn in Australia:

Another very well-known figure in mindfulness.  Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn & Dr Saki Santorelli visited Sydney in November 2009 and led 7-day Professional Training Retreat. Kabat-Zinn also conducted dialogues with clinicians and health-care professionals at Westmead Hospital, Sydney and delivered a public talk. I know a number of people who attended the retreat or talk, and were very impressed.

For more information and for a recent radio interview, see: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/spiritofthings/stories/2009/2735241.htm

The ABC page includes links for the Center for Mindfulness and for Kabat-Zinn’s homepage.

4. The Dalai Lama and Martin Seligman:

It was a great joy last week to attend the Mind and Its Potential conference in Sydney week and to see the Dalai Lama, Martin Seligman, B. Allan Wallace and Marc Hauser on stage together for almost three hours, conversing about their areas of interest.  The discussion was moderated by Natasha Mitchell from ABC Radio National. No pun intended…it was a definitely a meeting of minds. This was the first time Seligman and the Dalai Lama had met each other.

5. Loving Kindness Meditation and Positive Emotions:

This is not so new.  Barbara Fredrickson, very well-known and highly respected in the positive psychology world, is famous for her research on positive emotions.  Over the recent years she has tested the ancient practice of loving kindness meditation.  She has found that it leads to improved happiness, enhanced positive emotions and enhanced personal resources. (Reference: “Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources” by Fredrickson, Coffee, Peck, Cohn, Finkel, published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2008, Vol 95)

Strengths and Acceptance

Here are two articles which you might like to read when you have a spare (!) moment.

Holiday Strengths”: http://positivepsychologynews.com/news/amanda-horne/200912035888

“Tis the Season for Acceptance”: http://positivepsychologynews.com/news/denise-quinlan/200912086227

Authentic Leadership and Health

Last month’s topic was ‘zest at work’. This month I continue with this theme of vitality and thriving, and have summarised an article from the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior: “Authentic leadership as a pathway to positive health” (Note 1)

“Authentic leaders provide a supportive and positive environment where positive mood is nurtured. The authentic leader influences followers through unconditional trust on the part of the follower, positive emotions, and a commitment to foster self-determination and growth in their followers. These transformational behaviors can also be conceptualized as a health promoting strategy in followers as well.”

Positive Health

The authors suggest that: “a positive health model helps explain highly effective leadership”. The four elements of the model connect emotion, body and mind:

  1. Leading a life of purpose
  2. Quality connections to others / positive relationships
  3. Positive self-regard and mastery
  4. Perception of negative events as paths to meaning and purpose

“Positively healthy individuals are the high achievers and most satisfied….health promotion as a role for leaders is not a secondary interest, but a component of the success of the leadership process.”

Positive Leadership

The authors explain the parallels between “highly effective, authentic leadership” and positive health. Healthy executives were found to have the capacity to form healthy relationships and supportive working relationships, causing a ripple effect on those around them. Further, being able to motivate and inspire others, to understand individuals’ needs, and to provide interesting challenging work, promotes health in employees.

“The ability to perform at an exceptional level as a leader and to facilitate this level of functioning in followers requires a comprehensive approach that at minimum includes and optimally emphasizes the positive.”

Leaders who function on positive emotion are “contagious in relationship with their followers….this contagion effect can lift an entire workgroup and work setting in terms of performance as well as health”. When leaders transfer positive emotions such as hope, resilience and optimism to followers, this leads to improved performance and enhances follower health, positive self-regard and mastery.  Followers are also better able to find meaning and purpose in negative events, and display resilience.

“Authentic leaders are leading followers toward a higher purpose and helping to promote their health.”

My observation: this article supports the valuable role of Positive Psychology and related fields. The evidence-based theories and practices from these fields help leaders to positively impact the kind of health promotion described above, thus improving employee and team productivity and performance.

Note 1: Macik-Frey, M., Quick, J.C., Cooper, C.L. (2009), Authentic leadership as a pathway to positive health, Vol 30; Issue 3, pp 453-458
All quotes above are drawn from this article.