At the end of the 20th century, psychologists reacted to what they perceived as a negative bias in their field by launching the positive psychology movement. This movement had influential effects on organization studies; much scholarly attention was devoted to studying positive organizational phenomena. The article provides a brief, selective introduction to some of the developments resulting from the early-21st century focus on positive work and organization (PWO) studies. Findings of PWO are described in six different domains: psychological capital, organizational virtue, positive relationships, leadership, positive states and outcomes, and positive practice. The article also describes some outstanding challenges and promising directions for future development, including the nature of positivity, construct clarity, and the risks of co-optation.
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.