The need to belong and to be part of a group is a fundamental part of being human. The exact inspirational force that motivates people to join a group is not agreed upon in the psychological literature. Realistic group conflict theory, the self-esteem hypothesis, uncertainty-identity theory, terror management theory, and sociometer theory each explain the need to belong through distinct perspectives. These five heavily researched theories provide different explanations and predictions for why people join and identify with groups, such as the motivation for completing personal goals, the drive to increase self-esteem, to reduce anxiety surrounding death, to reduce uncertainty, and to seek protection within a group. Across the research on this topic, it is becoming clear that self-uncertainty reduction seems to be a powerful reason for identifying with groups. However, there is no doubt that other reasons may also be involved in the motivation to join groups. For example, existential uncertainty may drive people to affiliate with groups that specifically address existential issues; people may prefer to affiliate with desirable, rather than stigmatized, groups in order to satisfy the basic pursuit of pleasure over pain; and people may affiliate to protect against a wide variety of fears. Further research is needed to fully elucidate why people join groups.
Zachary P. Hohman and Olivia R. Kuljian
Lucas Monzani and Rolf Van Dick
Positive leadership is a major domain of positive organizational scholarship. The adjective “positive” applies to any leader behavioral pattern (style) that creates the conditions by which organizational members can self-actualize, grow, and flourish at work. Some examples of style are authentic, transformational, servant, ethical, leader–member exchange, identity leadership, and the leader character model. Despite the myriad constructive outcomes that relate to said positive leadership styles, positive leadership it is not without its critics. The three main criticisms are that (a) the field is fragmented and might suffer from conceptual redundancy, (b) extant research focuses on the individual level of analysis and neglects reciprocal and cross-level effects, and (c) positive leadership is naïve and not useful for managing organizations. Our multilevel model of positive leadership in organizations proposes that leaders rely on internalization and integration to incorporate meaningful life experiences and functional social norms into their core self. Further, through self-awareness and introspection, leaders discover and exercise their latent character strengths. In turn, positive leaders influence followers through exemplary role modeling and in turn followers validate leaders by adopting their attributes and self-determined behaviors. At the team level of analysis, positive team leaders elevate workgroups into teams by four mechanisms that shape a shared “sense of we,” and workgroup members legitimize positive leaders by granting them a leader role identity and assuming follower role identities. Finally, at the organizational level, organizational leaders can shape a virtuous culture by anchoring it on universal virtues and through corporate social responsibility actions improve their context. Alternatively, organizations can shape a virtuous culture through organizational learning.
Suzanne van Gils and Niels van Quaquebeke
Business scandals in the early 2000s gave renewed rise to the question of how companies can be led ethically. Correspondingly, research on ethical leadership focuses on leaders as moral persons—but even more so as moral managers. This focus came with a more general shift within many Western societies toward issues of sustainability, social justice, and well-being, and it has simultaneously given rise to the development of related constructs such as servant, respectful, and authentic leadership. In general, ethical leadership research has contributed to a necessary debate about leaders’ roles and responsibilities. Nonetheless, recent meta-analyses and critical reviews have criticized the minimal to nonexistent incremental value of the current operationalization of ethical leadership beyond other leadership concepts, underscored the philosophically all too simplistic notion of ethics underlying the concept, and highlighted its construct redundancy with the domain of follower-focused leadership. As such, there appear to be fruitful avenues for further honing the construct and its operationalization so that research can meaningfully inform leadership practice.