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Toward a Positive Psychology for Leaders

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  • Kaiser Leadership Solutions
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Toward a Positive Psychology for Leaders

Abstract and Figures

For the past 15 years, we have practiced a positive psychology for leaders-without calling it that. We have learned that the work of positive psychology is not just to affirm leaders for their strengths but also to call out which of those strengths they overplay; that therefore leaders' strengths cannot easily be separated from their weaknesses; that frequently leaders overuse their strengths because they worry that they aren't strong enough; that a good way to allay that anxiety is to administer a potent dose of positive feedback; and, finally, that the work of positive psychology is to deal with their resistance to that feedback.
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CHAPTER
9
Toward a Positive Psychology for Leaders
Robert E. Kaplan and Robert B. Kaiser
Abstract
For the past 15 years, we have practiced a positive psychology for leaders—without calling it that. We have
learned that the work of positive psychology is not just to affirm leaders for their strengths but also to call
out which of those strengths they overplay; that therefore leaders’ strengths cannot easily be separated
from their weaknesses; that frequently leaders overuse their strengths because they worry that they aren’t
strong enough; that a good way to allay that anxiety is to administer a potent dose of positive feedback;
and, finally, that the work of positive psychology is to deal with their resistance to that feedback.
Keywords: strengths overplayed, internalizing strengths, lopsidedness, positive psychology for leaders,
resistance to positive feedback, leadership versatility index
For the past 15 years we have practiced a positive
psychology for leaders—without calling it that. In
consulting to senior managers on leadership, our
firm has emphasized the utility of positive feedback
in leadership development and designed a suite of
interventions for using positive feedback as leverage
for development (Kaplan, 1999, 2002; Kaplan &
Kaiser, 2006a). In our research and development
efforts, we have created a patented leadership assess-
ment tool—the Leadership Versatility Index 360-
degree feedback survey—that distinguishes
strengths effectively applied from strengths overused
(Kaplan & Kaiser, 2003a, 2003b; Kaiser & Kaplan,
2007). This distinction is important yet often over-
looked in positive psychology and in its practical
application in organizations.
Martin Seligman is credited with establishing the
new field of positive psychology (Seligman, 1998).
In so doing, Seligman became the latest prominent
psychologist to call for a shift of emphasis from
mental illness to mental health, along with a con-
comitant focus on personal qualities like resilience,
optimism, and courage that foster health and well-
being (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). The call for the
helping professions to move away from the disease
model has a long history going back at least to Marie
Jahoda’s (1958) seminal conception of mental
health as not simply the absence of illness, but
rather its own distinct condition characterized by
self-acceptance, growth, personal integration, rea-
lism, autonomy, and mastery.
This chapter is based on our research and practice
over the last decade and a half; it is not a translitera-
tion of positive psychology to the domain of leader-
ship. Instead it aims to contribute to positive
psychology by drawing on novel insights from our
work in helping executive leaders grow and become
more effective and by bridging research on leader-
ship and its development from a unique perspective
on strengths.
Leaders’ Needs for Positive Feedback
We agree with the emphasis a positive psychology
puts on positive feedback but for reasons that may
depart from conventional wisdom. For one, most
leaders do not have a firm sense of their strengths
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107
and this compromises their effectiveness. For
another, leaders are surprisingly resistant to positive
feedback and, therefore, need plenty of it, along with
help in accepting it.
Leaders Don’t Know Their Strengths
There is a large body of research on 360-degree
feedback that compares a leader’s self-assessment to
assessments made by the ‘full circle of coworkers’’—
the boss, peers, and subordinates. One finding is that
self-ratings are of dubious validity; they correlate
very weakly with coworker ratings and even less so
with objective measures (Beehr, Ivanitskaya,
Hansen, Erofeev, & Gudanowski, 2001; Conway
& Huffcutt 1997). Another finding is that overall
most managers evaluate their performance more
favorably than coworkers evaluate their performance
(Atwater, Waldman, Ostroff, Robie, & Johnson,
2005; Harris & Schaubroeck, 1988). One could
infer that most leaders overestimate their strengths,
but that would be a misreading of the data.
Studies comparing self-ratings to coworker rat-
ings find that the most effective leaders are more
likely to underrate themselves compared to cowor-
kers (Church, 1997; Eichinger & Lombardo, 2003).
In other words, the strongest performers don’t see
what they do well as clearly as their coworkers see it.
This finding is consistent with a more general one
from experiments in social psychology: while people
regularly overestimate their performance in areas in
which they are not competent, the most competent
people in a given area underestimate their compe-
tence (Kruger & Dunning, 1999). They have the
misguided idea that other people are as capable, or
more capable, in that respect than they are and that
their own ability is not extraor dinary.
These statistical and exper imental findings agree
with observations from experts who work closely
with leaders. For instance, Peter Drucker has repeat-
edly argued that few executives, even highly suc-
cessful ones, know what they are good at (e.g.,
Drucker, 2000). Similarly, through deeply intensive
assessment-and-development consulting to execu-
tives, we have regularly found that they do not
know the extent of their own strengths—especially
the outstanding ones—and, ironically, they are
uncomfortable with feedback about their strengths
(Kaplan, 1999).
The lack of self-awareness about strengths is
compounded by the fact that as managers climb
the corporate ranks, they get less and less candid
feedback about their flaws (Kaplan, Drath, &
Kofodimos, 1984). Many a savvy executive is
aware of the hesitance on the part of coworkers to
deliver bad news, especially about the executive’s
own performance. Most executives are also aware
of the tendency for ‘jokes to get funnier’ and
‘ideas to become more brilliant’ just because of a
promotion. The net result is that they often treat
positive feedback with skepticism.
Leaders Need a Mirror Held Up to Their
Strengths
The psychoanalyst Heinz Kohu t (1977) stressed
the importance of ‘mirroring’ to the healthy devel-
opment of children. Mirroring on the parents’ part is
an ‘in-tuneness’ with the child, an empathic
response that fosters self-acceptance. Children
hunger for mirroring: ‘Mommy, come see my
painting ...watch me climb the tree ...I slept in
my bed all night!’ As adults, leaders need their own
version of mirroring. They need to have reflected
back to them, from time to time, an accurate sense of
what they do well. Opinion leaders from Drucker to
his modern-day disciples exhort mana gers to ‘play to
your strengths.’ But how are leaders to play to their
strengths if they don’t know what their strengths are?
In our consulting experience many leaders are
running a sizable mirroring deficit. They don’t
simply need to know whether they are making the
grade in their first job as a general manager or if the
new CEO wants them on his or her team. Let’s call
that situational mirroring. Leaders’ deprivation is
such that they need corrective mirroring, a program
of positive reinforcement to rectify a perceived def-
icit carried forward from the past (cf. Kaiser &
Kaplan, 2006; Kaplan & Kaiser, 2003c).
For nearly 25 years the senior author and his
colleagues have done assessments of leaders that
include life histories taken not just from the indivi-
dual but from members of their family of origin.
Designed as an intervention, the assessment doubled
as ‘biographical action-research’ (Kaplan, Drath, &
Kofodimos, 1991; Kaplan, 1998). From the data on
childhood comes a long list of antecedents to the
reinforcement-deprived condition we encounter in
many senior managers. This is not to mention set-
backs, illness, and other adversity experienced in
adulthood:
1. Being small or overweight or having to wear
glasses; worse yet being handicapped physically.
2. Being picked on by peers (see #1).
3. Being a member of an outgroup (e.g.,
religious, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic), and
therefore in a one-down position.
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108 TOWARD A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY FOR LEADERS
4. Moving repeatedly, each time having to break
in socially again.
5. Having a parent die and therefore being thrust
prematurely into a position of responsibility.
6. Having an abusive or neglectful parent.
7. Having the wage-earning parent suffer a
serious financial reversal.
8. Getting poor grades in school and concluding
‘I’m not smart.’
9. Being typecast in the family as the child who’s
social or athletic but ‘not the smart one.’
10. Lacking a college degree or attending a low-
status or less-than-prestigious college or graduate
school.
11. Attending an elite secondary school where
they judged themselves as not smart relative to the
‘geniuses’ in their class.
12. A high performer academically and/or
athletically and therefore burdened by the pressure
to repeat.
13. The repository of their parents’ extremely
high expectations; self-esteem hinges on high
performance, and self-acceptance is lacking.
14. In general, unfavorable growing-up
conditions greatly outweighed favorable conditions.
Winnicott (1971) wrote of the ‘environmental pro-
vision,’ the emotional support that a child needs to
develop normally. In cases like those listed above in
which parents and the larger social environment did
not provide sufficiently for their emotional needs,
leaders carry a deficit into their adult lives and
careers.
Not just a liability, deprivation motivates. At least
it does in leaders who ascend the hierarchy. Few
extraordinarily successful people have nothing to
prove. But outward success notwithstanding, depri-
vation leaves an inner residue (Kaplan, Drath, &
Kofodimos, 1991).
At stake is not just the leader’s well-being; their
effectiveness hangs in the balance. When an indivi-
dual’s adjus tment is off, it throws off his or her
performance (Kaiser & Kaplan, 2006; Kaplan &
Kaiser, 2003c). For example, a leader may see him-
or herself as not that smart, even though everyone
else sees him or her as plenty smart. As a result, to
compensate for his or her felt deficiency s/he may
overstrive—and come off as a ‘know-it-all.’ Or per-
haps a leader doesn’t see him- or herself as powerful,
even though p ersonal power radiates off of him/her.
As a result, to compensate, s/he is overpowering.
Another leader may be universally experienced as
‘emotionally intelligent’ and having ‘people skills’
yet because s/he is not secure in that knowledge, s/he
can’t do enough to convey how much s/he values
other peo ple—and is slow to make tough personnel
decisions.
This is where corrective mirroring comes in.
Positive feedback, administered effectively, can
make up for some of the deprivation experienced
earlier in life. If leaders can revise upward their
unrealistically low estimate of themselves on the
attribute in question, they will not only grow and
heal; they will increase their effectiveness.
In addition to underestimating themselves on
specific aspects of leadership, many leaders under-
value their capability across the board. A senior
manager we worked with grossly underrated her
overall effectiveness. As she put it, ‘I place much
more emotional weight on the negatives than the
positives.’
Note: corrective mirroring can’t happen in a
vacuum. For leaders to grow and improve, they
need not only the informational support provided
by corrective mirroring but also a reparative relation-
ship, a medium for conveying affirmation. The other
party does not have to be a helping professional. A
reasonably well-put-together significant other—a
spouse, personal friend, close colleague, a higher-
level manager acting as a mentor—can serve in that
capacity.
Challenges Faced by a Positive Psychology
for Leaders
Positive psychology will have to overcome two
problems if it is to make a significant contribution to
leadership development: first, the tendency for man-
agers to resist positive feedback and second, the
tendency for managers to turn their strengths into
weaknesses by overdoing it. Linley’s (2008) recent
work, influenced by our own theory and practice,
takes steps in helpin g managers to do just that.
Resistance to Positive Feedback
Ironically, needy leaders fortunate enough to
have a generous measure of positive feedback
served with the help of an able third party don’t
tend to be particularly open to it. In fact, they
resist it in three ways.
First, there is the common discomfort with com-
pliments. Most people find it mildly embarrassing to
receive praise. Further, strong norms against arro-
gance and conceit can dissuade people from doing
anything that resembles ‘tooting your own horn.’
Second, in the usual feedback exercise the infor-
mational meal consists of servings of both negative
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KAPLAN AND KAISER 109
feedback and positive feedback. Predictable to the
point of being comical, virtually every leader we
work with acts as if only the negative feedback will
nourish them. ‘Give me the negative fe edback,’ they
exclaim, ‘because that’s what I can do something
about.’ Leaders completely overlook the develop-
mental value in positive feedback. This herd instinct
is an obvious indication of the need for a positive
psychology of leadership. Incidentally, those
who deliver feedback—supervisors and even helping
professionals, internal and external to the
organization—have also been known often to suc-
cumb to the gravitational pull of the negatives.
Third, once leaders receive pos itive feedback,
they have a tendency to discount it or otherwise
explain it away. More on this below.
How Strengths Become Weaknesses
To be effective, a positive psychology for leaders
must contend with another major complication: a
focus on strengths must also include a focus on the
problem of strengths overused. The tacit assumption
that ‘more is bett er’ has led to major oversights in
the literature on strengths and in the practice of
leadership assessment (Kaiser & Kaplan, 2005,
2009; Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006a, 2009).
To possess a strength is to be at risk of taking that
strength too far. The greater a leader’s desire to be
strong in a given respect, the greater the risk. The
greater a leader’ s fear of being inadequate in some
respect, the greater the risk s/he will overcompen-
sate. Strengths become weaknesses not only by over-
relying on them but also continuing to rely on
strengths that made for high performance early in a
managerial career but th at no longer fit well for more
senior jobs (Charan, Drotter, & Noel 2001; McCall,
1998).
As many leaders know, this is how strengths
become weaknesses: they are taken to an extreme.
And taken to an extreme, strengths make for either
waste or harm. Waste in the sense of spending more
time or expending more effort than the situation
requires—for example, burn-out, in yourself and
others. Harm that often takes the form of excessive
force—for example, being direct to the point of
being confrontational. Harm can also result from
being excessively concerned for the feelings of under-
performing staff members. Leave those people in
their jobs and eventually everyone suffers.
In addition to the direct effects, wasted effort,
and needless harm, overdoing it has a major side-
effect: it crowds out the opposing, but complemen-
tary, side of leadership (Kaplan, 1996; Kaplan &
Kaiser, 2003b, 2006a, 2006c, 2009). Leaders who
are quick to step up and take charge often do a poor
job of delegation. Participative leaders have a hard
time cutting off discussion and making the call.
Visionary leaders often struggle with implementa-
tion. And many managers are too absorbed in day-
to-day firefighting to think strategically.
Overemphasizing one side of a pair of complemen-
tary approaches goes hand-in-hand with placing too
little emphasis on the other side. This side-effect is
thus a second way that strengths become weaknesses.
Unfortunately, some applications of positive psy-
chology to leadership development play straight into
this trap. Advocates of ‘strengths-based develop-
ment’ encourage mana gers to discover and build
up their strengths and typically discourage a focus
on weaknesses. The logic is that there are some
things you are naturally good at and it is more
efficient and profitable to maximize those talents
than to try to get good at so mething for which you
don’t have much talent (Buckingham & Clifton,
2001). Proponents of strengths-based development
often hold a ‘more is better’ assumption about
strengths; some even deny that one could overdo a
strength (e.g., Brim, 2007; but see Linley, 2008, for
a counterpoint from the perspective of positive psy-
chology). One ‘happiness intervention’ experimen-
tally proven to improve moo d has people identify
their strengths and then find new ways to use that
strength (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005).
The problem is that these approaches can encourage
leaders to overuse their strengths and, by ignoring
what doesn’t come naturally, underuse opposing but
complementary skills. The result can be a one-
dimensional leader with a restricted repertoire.
Since most leadership roles are not elective, these
more limited leaders are invariably less effective than
their versatile counterparts (Kaiser, Lindberg, &
Craig, 2007; Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006a).
A positive psychology for leaders must take into
account the universal human tendency to take
strengths too far (Kaiser, 2009). It must grapple
with the direct effects and the side-effects of over-
using strengths, first by bringing these ill effects to
light, and second by helping leaders make the most
of their strengths—without overdoing it. Would
that positive reinforcement were enough.
Practical Applications of Positive Psychology
to Leaders
It is not our intent to cover interventions that are
well established in positive psychology or in psy-
chology in general. At most we will refer briefly to,
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110 TOWARD A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY FOR LEADERS
for example, methods for reconditioning behavior
(e.g., Lazarus, 1971) and combating negative
thinking or revising perfectionist expectations (Ellis
& Harper, 1975). Instead of standard fare, we report
here on practices that are either not used or not
widely used in our field or elsewhere. It would be
natural to go first to the application of positiv e feed-
back, the hallmark of positive psychology. Instead
we follow this logical progression: assessing strengths
and their overuse, tem pering strengths when they’re
overused, internalizing strengths as a way of tem-
pering strengths, assessing polarized leadership, and
de-polarizing a leader’s way of operating.
Assess Strengths and Their Overuse
The research cited above shows that people do
not know their strengths. In particular, they under-
estimate their capability on truly outstanding
strengths (and overestimate how strong they are in
weak areas).
Of the many ways to give leaders insight into
their strengths—performance appraisals, coaching
by supervisors or by helping professionals, informal
on-the-job feedback—questionnaires have become
the standard method. However good they are at
serving up a clear picture of the leader’s strengths
they suffer from a serious limitation. They don’t
determine which strengths the leader overuses. For
instance, popular ‘strengths inventories’ such as
Values in Action (VIA, Peterson, Park, & Seligman,
2005) or StrengthsFinder
TM
(Buckingham &
Clifton, 2001) ask respondents to identify the activ-
ities they enjoy, prefer, and succeed at to determine a
rank-ordering of the most-to-least prominent areas
of talent. These results say nothing about how those
talents are applied, including whether the individual
is likely to take them to counterproductive extremes.
Peterson (2006) does, however, note that VIA
strengths can be taken too far. Likewise, Schw artz
and Sharpe (2006) point out that virtues can be
overused and can result in ‘deformation of
character.’
The same limitation applies to 360-degree feed-
back surveys. Although they have proliferated in the
last 20 years, they take the same form and are mostly
variations on a theme. In particular, these surveys
employ a 1-to- 5 rating format where higher scores
indicate more of the behavior, skill, or attribute in
question (Leslie & Fleenor, 1998). High scores are
considered better, which stands to reason since low
scores are worse. But more isn’t always better, and
high scores often obscure the difference between
doing something a lot and doing it too much
(Kaiser & Kaplan, 2005).
How then to hold up a mirror to for leaders to see
their strengths alongside their strengths overused?
Once the senior author recognized the oversight
in the design of assessment tools, including one of
his own (Kaplan, 1988), it was a relatively easy
matter to devise a rating scale that captured strengths
overused (Kaplan, 1996). Of the many ways it migh t
be accomplished, the format in Figure 9.1 is the
latest version of the scale developed by the two of
us (Kaiser & Kaplan, 2005).
If on a competency such as ‘Drives for results,’ a
majority of coworkers choose ‘right amount,’ then
the leader can claim that as a strength. If a significant
percentage of coworkers rate it as ‘too much,’ then
we know that the individual drives too hard. Leaders
know that they fall short on an item if a sizable
number of coworkers rate it ‘too little.’ Our statis-
tical research affirms this interpretation of ratings by
documenting a strong relationship between ineffec-
tiveness and doing both too little and too much of
certain leadership behaviors (see Kaiser & Kaplan,
2007, 2009). For instance, Figure 9.2 shows the
typical relationship between behaviors rated on the
‘too little/to o much’ scale of the Leadership
Much
too little
Barely
too little
Barely
too much
Much
too much
–4 –3 –2 –1 +1 +2 +3 +40
Too little Too much
The right
amount
Figure 9.1 The ‘Too Little/Too Much’ rating scale. Note that this rating scale is probably different from scales that you are accustomed
to using. On this scale the best score is ‘0,’ in the middle of the scale. The premise is that performance problems arise when managers either
do too little or do too much of something. Some people misread this scale. Please do not mistake it for the usual type where higher scores
are better. Reproduced with permission from Kaplan, R. E., & Kaiser, R. B. (2006). Leadership Versatility Index
Ò
. Greensboro, NC: Kaplan
DeVries Inc. Reproduced with permission.
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KAPLAN AND KAISER 111
Versatility Index and independent ratings of overall
effectiveness on a 10-point scale where 5 is ‘ade-
quate’ and 10 is ‘outstanding.’ We find this
inverted-U shaped function for a range of forceful,
enabling, strate gic, and operational leadership beha-
viors when predicting such leadership effectiveness
criteria as employee job satisfaction and engagement,
unit morale and cohesiveness, and team produc-
tivity. The implication is clear: strengths overused
can hamper effectiveness just as much as weaknesses
and shortcomings.
Any intervention that calls attention to leaders’
strengths but ignores the possibility of overkill is
incomplete. We owe it to leaders and their organiza-
tions to provide mirrors that reflect the whole story
of their strengths.
Temper a Leader’s Strengths—When They’re
Overused
A positive psychology for leade rs can’t limit itself
to reinforcing them for what they do well. Its must
also come to grips with the problem of strengths
overused. To be effective it must make room for
this dark side of strengths. Note that there is an
upbeat aspect to calling overkill to the attention of
leaders: the excess contains a strength, which they
happen to carry too far.
The crux of the developmental work is to strip
away excess. To accomplish this change in behavior,
leaders must first see the excess. Though the idea of
taking strengths to an extreme is not unfamiliar to
them, they find it far easier to observe overkill in
other people than in themselves. In their own cases
they find it difficult to distinguish between doing
something enough and taking it too far.
To effect this change requires delving into the
psychology of strengths overused. At its simplest,
this specialized psychology amounts to this: leaders
overdo wha t they overvalue. The simplest interven-
tion then is to get leaders to recognize this in them-
selves and to place less importance on the managerial
function in question. Of course, interventions get
deeper as they address what underlies a skewed value
system—sensitivities along with the painful antece-
dents of those sensitivities (Kaiser & Kaplan, 2006;
Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006c).
The work of tempering strengths would be made
immeasurably easier if assessment tools were
designed to bring to light not just strengths and
shortcomings but strengths taken too far. But, in a
remarkable decades-long collective oversight, the
leadership field has omitted this crucial feature
from its tools for assessing leaders (Kaiser &
Kaplan, 2005). How are leaders to curb excess in
themselves if assessment tools systematically fail to
point it out?
Temper Overplayed Strengths by
Internalizing the Strengths
There is no better way to contend with the dark
side of strengths than to employ positive psychology
to accentuate the leader’s positives. It is such a good
solution because leaders typically overdo it to com-
pensate for an imagined deficiency. Stated another
way, leaders overdo what they underestimate
(Kaplan, 1999; Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006a). This
–1.5
5
6
7
8
9
10
–1.0 –0.5 0.0 +0.5 +1.0 +1.5
Overall Effectiveness
Too little
Too much
The right
amount
Rating of Behavior
Figure 9.2 Effects of ‘underdoing’ and ‘overdoing’ on leadership effectiveness. Reproduced with permission from Kaiser, R. B., &
Kaplan, R. E. (2007). Leadership Versatility Index
Ò
facilitator’s guide. Greensboro, NC: Kaplan DeVries Inc. Reproduced with permission.
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112 TOWARD A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY FOR LEADERS
applies especially to truly outstanding strengt hs.
Among the senior managers we have consulted to
lurks a well-kept secret: many of them privately
doubt that they are smart enough. This despite the
fact that their peers regard them as plenty smart,
even exceptionally so (cf. Clance, 1985, on the
impostor phenomenon). Harboring this underesti-
mate, they compensate by trying too hard to demon-
strate to themselves and to others how smart they
are. They have to know everything about their func-
tion or organization—and hamper their effective-
ness by getting mired in the minutia. They are
compelled to display that knowledge, even to their
staff, to the point where they block others’ efforts to
contribute and deprive subordinates of the opportu-
nity to develop.
If there were ever a role for corrective mirroring,
this is it. In our practice we hold up a mirror fash-
ioned out of positive feedback, large quantities of it,
both qualitative and quantitative. If leaders can give
credence to the rigo rously developed image of the
attribute they underestimate in themselves, then
they naturally alleviate the overuse of that strength.
They stop overcompensating. But as noted above,
instead of welcoming the positive feedback and
revising upward their estimate of themselves, they
often resist it.
Herein lies the hard work of a positive psychology
for leaders. Admirable as it is to offer a strengths
inventory to correct for an overemphasis on weak-
nesses, a positive psychology for leaders is not that
easily practiced. Practiced well, it makes room for the
complex work of overcoming the resistance to feed-
back on strengths. Otherwise positive feedback isn’t
worth much and leaders are not likely to heal, grow,
and improve.
When prompted, leaders will cooperate in
turning their attention to the positive feedback.
Perversely, though, if there is a disc repancy
between what they regard as their strengths and
what others report, they find the nourishment
difficult to swallow. Changing analogies: con-
fronted with a discrepancy, leaders believe the
mirrorheldupbycoworkersisdistorted.
‘They’re just being nice.’ ‘They’re gilding the
lily.’ ‘I know better what it m eans to be very
bright.’ On one or another strength, they trust
their own crooked mirror more than the one held
up by coworkers.
In our practice we employ a continually
expanding set of tactics for ove rcoming the resistance
to positive feedback. A sampling follows (see also,
Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006a, chapter 3):
We make sure to gather a large quantity of data
on the positives. For example, in conducting
interviews with coworkers, we don’ t settle for one-
word descriptions of strengths like ‘leadership,’
‘intelligence,’ ‘people skills.’ We ask for
elaboration: ‘What does intellige nce look like in
his case?’ In addition, we don’t only ask, ‘What
are this manager’s strengths?’ To discover what the
individual is really good at, we then ask, ‘Which of
his or her strengths is truly outstanding?’
On the Leadership Versatility Index we add the
percentages of right-amount ratings and too-much
ratings of each dimension. Let’s say that 55 percent
of a leader’s coworkers rated her ‘right amount’ on
‘Steps in when problems arise,’ and an additional 25
percent rate d her ‘too much.’ The sum, 80 percent,
is a powerful indication of her strength on this
dimension—apart from the need for her dial it back.
In the feedback session, not taking anything
for granted, we check out the individual’s reactions
to coworkers’ answers to these two questions.
Innocently, we ask, for example, ‘Do you discount
any of this praise?’ Often we find that the leader does
not take at face value one or another of the strongly
supported strengths.
We uncover, and work to overcome, the
resistance to accepting the positive feedback, which
often lies just beneath the surface. It quickly emerges
that the leader has, for example, a ‘fear of getting a
swelled head.’ It may be that the praise touches a
nerve. The individual has long nursed a painful sense
of inadequacy in precisely that area. (For more
specific interventions and a curriculum design for
overcoming these deep-seated sources of resistance,
see Kaiser & Kaplan, 2007; and Kaplan, 1999.)
The affirmation of strengths goes to the heart of
positive psychology. As experienced helping profes-
sionals know, it can be difficult to get through to
people on this point. Grappling with what to some
looks like a non-obvious and irrational resistance
describes a basic function of positive psychology for
leaders.
Assess for Lopsided Leadership
There is a great irony in the field of leadership
assessment. On the one hand, lopsidedness is
endemic among managers. On the other hand,
assessment tools are not designed to assess balance,
or the lack of it. These tools define leadership in
linear terms with one discrete dimension listed after
another—sets strategy, communicates strategy,
turns strategy into operational plans, energize s
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KAPLAN AND KAISER 113
people, and so forth. Since balance is by definition a
two-sided entity, the only way a tool can assess for it
is if that tool is founded on a two-sided conception
of leadership that specifies the opposing dimensions
to be balanced (Kaplan & Kaiser, 2003b; 2006c).
The idea of juxtaposing opposing dimensions is
certainly not new to psychology. Circumplex the-
ories of personality set this precedent some time ago.
For instance, Timothy Leary’s (1957) circular model
of interpersonal relations defines social behavior in
terms of dominance and nurturance. Jungian theory
is replete with opposites like masculine-feminine,
thinking-feeling, and sensing-intuiting. Nor is jux-
taposing opposites unknown in the leadership field.
Robert Quinn’s (1988) competing values frame-
work calls attention to opposing tensions—namely,
stability versus change and an internal versus
external perspective.
A rating scale, like that in Figure 9.1, is all it takes
to identify the overuse that causes waste or harm.
But it is not sufficient to capture the case in which
overuse has the side-effect of sacrificing capacity on
the opposing side. If a leader goes overboard on
‘Drives for results,’ then he or she is likely to trade
off the complementary virtue, ‘Supports people.’
To pick up the trade-off, the assessment tool needs
to define leadership in two-sided terms. That is why
we constructed the Leadership Versatility Index
around what we have found to be the two funda-
mental dualities in leadership: strategic and opera-
tional leadership, and forceful and enabling
leadership (Kaplan & Kaiser, 2003a, 2003b, 2006a).
The Leadership Versatility Index is unique in pos-
sessing the cap acity to capture lopsidedness, defined
as the profligate use of one approach and the impo-
verished use of the complementary approach. This
singular feature is the reason our firm was awarded a
patent for this tool. The feature is a combination of
two design elements—a rating scale that captures
strengths overused and a model of leadership defined
in terms of pairs of opposites.
De-Polarize a Leader’s Way of Operating
Leaders can be said to have a polarized way of
operating when they overdo one approach to leading
and, as a by-product, underdo the opposing side. To
be more precise, their behavior is lopsided. It is the
mind-set behind their behavior that is polarized (see
Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006a, chapter 4).
An example from our consulting practice: a
senior manager respected for being very bright, a
voice of reason, and respectful of others suffered
from a lopsided stance on the forceful-enabling
duality. His constructive, considerate treatment of
the people on his team came at the expense of
holding them accountable. When people didn’t
meet deadlines or handed in work that didn’t meet
his own standards of excellence, he let them off the
hook. Behind his lopsided way of managing his team
lay a polarized stance toward power and the treat-
ment of people. He identified with treating people
well; he dissociated himself from raw power. To
strike a better balance on this duality he had to
overcome his resistance to being forceful and he
had to loosen his tight attachment to being nice.
His effort to change also played out on the tennis
court, where he depended too much on his back-
hand and struggled to develop a put-away forehand
shot. Seeing this in his play, his friends pointed out
his inability to ‘go for the jugular.’
In his theory and practice Fritz Perls specialized
in de-polarizing (1969). For him a polarized mindset
took the form of a dominating ‘top dog’ part of a
person and a corresponding weak or recessive
‘underdog’ part. He intervened by having the
person take turns giving voice to the two parts. In
that dialogue, with the person moving back and
forth between two chairs that represented the two
halves of the polarized state, the imbalance of power
could emerge and it could be redressed if, for
example, the weak side stood up for itself against
the dominating side.
A positive psychology for leaders contends with
thedarksideofstrengthsin this form—a strength
taken too far and, as a side-effect, a corresponding
underdeveloped side. An intervention that stands a
chance of success tackles the lopsided behavio r and
the polarized mental model behind it. With leaders,
practical people that they are, the better place to
start is with their behavior. All you need is an
assessment tool designed to identify lopsidedne ss
in leaders.
Suggestions for Research and Practice
Toward a positive psychology for leaders we have
in this chapter taken several positions, each of which
are worth putting into practice and giving further
study.
1. Don’t let the pendulum swing from an
overemphasis on weaknesses to an overemph asis on
strengths. In practice don’t allow ideology or over-
exuberance to turn a positive psychology for leaders
into an oversimplified school of thought. It is much
better—and necessary—to frame positive
psychology in all of its requisite complexity.
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114 TOWARD A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY FOR LEADERS
2. Make room, in a leader-oriented positive
psychology, for resistance to accentuating a person’s
strengths. Resistance to positive messages makes the
application of positive psychology more complex.
Through research and practice, let’s catalog the
classes of this seemingly perverse resistance, expose
its roots, and evolve broad strategies and concrete
tactics for overcoming it. What methods make it
possible for leaders to truly embrace their strengths?
3. There is no viable alternative to incorporating
leaders’ negatives, especially those that arise from
overdoing their strengths, in a psychology that would
focus on their positives. No practice that purports to
be useful can ignore the inextricable ties of an
individual’s strengths to his or her we aknesses
(McCall, 1998). Research would make an
important contribution if it could lay bare the
complex interplay between strengths and
weaknesses, and put to rest the false dichotomy
between strengths and weaknesses.
4. We recommend that a leader-oriented positive
psychology define leadership development in terms of the
intra-individual tension between opposites. The field
of leadership development needs to make a bigger
place for interventions aimed at imbalance between
pairs of opposing leadership virtues. This is where
leaders overplay roles that suit their strengths and
underplay complementary roles—interventions
must tackle both lopsided behavior and the
polarized mindset behind it. Research might dig
into the relative power of dialing back strengths
versus cranking up the complementary
weaknesses—as well as the value of doing both in
tandem. In practice we need to expose the folly in
advising managers to ignore their weaknesses—
when those weaknesses are in essential leadership
roles, effectiveness is the ultimate victim. We
realize that it is an easy sell to let managers off the
hook for their shortcomings, but that does a
disservice to the leader and the organization. The
data are too clear to ignore: lopsided leaders who
emphasize their strengths to the neglect of what
doesn’t come naturally are far less effective than
more well rounded, versatile leaders (Kaiser,
Lindberg, & Craig, 2007; Kaplan & Kaiser, 2006a).
5. A positive psychology for leaders means nothing
unless it increases their effectiveness. It is not enough
for individual leaders to report benefits—that they
have a better grasp of their strengths, greater self-
confidence, or a stronger sense of well-being. That
inner shift has to be appa rent to coworkers and
manifest itself in improved leadership performance.
Researchers can help by studying the links in the
logic chain linking the internalization of strengths to
a lessened likelihood to overusing strengths and, in
turn, to the ultimate indices of leadership
effectiveness such as greater employee motivation
and enhanced business results.
Conclusion
Like any movement, positive psychology—along
with off-shoots like strengths-based development—
has proven susceptible to a swing of the pendulum
(Kaiser, 2009). The same thing happened when an
employee-centered school of thought discredited,
and sought to displace, command-and-control lea-
dership. The anti-thesis, in attempting to replace the
established thesis, ends up equally one-sided. What’s
needed in a positive psychology for leaders is a
practical synthesis that accounts for the realities of
change through affirmation and therefore is truly
useful in practice.
We consulted to a recently promoted senior man-
ager who received kudos from the coworkers we
interviewed. They admired his ability to focus the
organization on a few priorities, drive execution
relentlessly, and consistently get results. We could
have taken it for granted that he took in the positive
regard. Checking with him, though, we discovered
that the opposite was true. He balked at accepting
the affirmation for fear of egotism. Perhaps the block
originated with his parents’ dictum, ‘Be humble.’ In
any case, his resistance cost him. One of his great
strengths, opera tional discipline, bled over into over-
control. He manfully tried to dial back on control
but willpower wasn’t enough. He needed to relax his
too-tight grip on the controls. Using the applications
described above, we helped him to internalize the
positives so as to allay the anxiety that drove the
over-control. As a by-product he freed up emotional
energy to bring out the less well developed comple-
mentary side—focus on the long term and invest-
ment in innovation. This, in a nutshell, is how far we
have taken our practice of a positive psychology for
leaders. There is no doubt that practice will continue
to evolve, as will the field.
Directions for Research
How to classify the types of resistance to
affirmation that leaders, and all adults, put up?
Which interventions are effective at reducing
resistance to affirmation?
In particular, which methods for delivering
positive feedback are most effective in having
leaders internalize their strengths?
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KAPLAN AND KAISER 115
Implications for Practice
Keep in mind that leaders, like all adults, often
resist positive feedback. Therefore, positive psychology
includes the work of overcoming that resistance.
If you assess a leader’s strengths, be sure to also
determine which of those strengths he or she
overuses.
Use ‘corrective mirroring’’—a large dose of data
on the leader’s strengths—to stop the individual from
overcompensating for imagined deficiencies.
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Keywords: psychological capital, organizational behavior, statistical analysis Introduction In today’s rapidly increasing competitive conditions, organizations need resources that will differentiate themselves from other organizations and provide sustainable competitive advantage. The most important and valuable resource of an organization is human capital, and the human resources can change the strategic perspective of the organization. The concept of psychological capital refers to the positive psychological situation in which individuals have positive expectations that they will be successful today or in the future, have faith to overcome difficult tasks, and overcome problems to sustain success (Avey, Patera, & West, 2006, p. 54). This definition distinguishes psychological capital from human capital (accumulation of knowledge, talent, and experience) and social capital (social relations and communication). Psychological capital, unlike traditional capital types, is expressed as the ability to successfully transfer human, social and economic capitals to the organization with the goal of employee productivity. Efforts to increase the levels of hope, resilience, self-efficacy, and optimism that make up the elements of psychological capital of the employees lead to creating a value and enhance their loyalty by developing trust in their organizations. The primary purpose of the study was to determine whether there are significant differences in their psychological capitals in terms of demographic variables, such as gender, age, marital status, working time, educational status, household income and service period of civil servants and workers in Mersin Municipality for hope, resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy, which are the sub-dimensions of psychological capital. In addition, the relationship between the dimensions of psychological capital and its effects constituted another sub-objective. The psychological capital perception of the employees was evaluated and the corporate profile was interpreted. In the first part of the study, firstly the concept of organizational culture was explained and organizational behavior is discussed. Then, economic, human, social, and psychological types of capital were discussed. In the second part of the study, the concept of psychological capital was explained in detail with reference to the other related concepts, its importance, and benefits. In addition, general information about psychology and positive psychology was given in this section. In the third part, which is the application part of the study, the findings were evaluated by analyzing the survey conducted with the participation of civil servants and workers working in Mersin Municipality in order to measure psychological capital in organizations. Theoretical Framework Capital and Types of Capital The concept of capital, in its most known meaning, is used as the tangible assets and money owned by an individual or organization. However, when this concept is discussed in depth, it can be determined that it is not only composed of material inputs. In this context, modern approaches examining capital only in terms of economic criteria led them to be criticized by new post-modern approaches. In this way, in general terms, capital has lost its aspect of being just an economic term, and other riches owned, such as being intellectual, knowledge, skills, social life, culture, and psychology have come to be considered as capital. In the following sections, apart from economic capital, some of the other types of capital brought by postmodern approaches are briefly mentioned (Hodgson, 2014, p. 1068). Economic Capital Economically, capital is considered equivalent to money. In this context, capital is seen as the investment of the institution in human resources, a company, or an enterprise. At the same time, all the assets of the institution with monetary value which they need in order to offer their products and services to the market are included in the capital (Hodgson, 2014, p. 1069). Human Capital The concept of human capital, which can be defined as labor quality, emerged with the beginning of 1960s as an important component of the economy. Theodore W. Schultz’s argument that the main source of economic growth is human and therefore cannot be ignored was effective in the recognition of the concept in history (as cited in Koç, 2013, p. 248). Human capital can be described as the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies that an individual has as a result of the education and experience gained. Becker (1964), on the other hand, defined human capital as a high level of personal structure that includes knowledge, skills, and other characteristic features that one uses to create added value (as cited in Banerjee, 2013, p. 223). Social Capital Pierre Bourdieu (1985), who made a great contribution to the formation of the concept of social capital, defined it as “the sum of the existing or potential resources that develop on the basis of mutual relations and the networks they form” (p. 248). In other words, social capital is a whole which is formed by structures, such as norms, interpersonal connections, trust, etc. that strengthen cooperation and coordination for mutual benefits. Psychological Capital It was stated that psychological capital, which was put forward by being influenced by the positive trends in the wake of World War II, was a wealth beyond economic, human, and social capital. In this context, the psychological capital includes features that can be developed, such as self-efficacy, hope, optimism, resilience, etc. that individuals possess (Luthans & Youssef, 2004, p. 148). A detailed explanation will be given in the following section. Psychological capital focuses on understanding and improving the strengths and positive aspects of individuals and aims to teach individuals situations in which they can be happier, successful, and good. The concept of psychological capital has become the focal point of the business community in improving productivity and job performance. Positive psychological capital refers to the psychological development of an individual in a positive sense. With the development as mentioned above, individuals, by undertaking the tasks that seem difficult and in terms of displaying the necessary effort in order to accomplish these tasks successfully, must have features, such as being self-confident, thinking positively about achieving success in the present and future, showing effort to be successful within the scope of objectives and re-evaluating the paths to success that are needed when necessary, recovering, and continuing to achieve success even if it is covered with problems and troubles (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2006, p. 3). The dimensions of psychological capital directly affect professional and organizational identification, and they are also indirectly related to the levels of perception of professional life project. From this point of view, organizational and professional identification of employees is in close relationship not only with their individual skills but also with the use of these individual skills in their organizational and professional lives and turning them into success (Erkuş & Fındıklı, 2013, p. 310). In working life, focusing only on the negative aspects of individuals’ behaviors and considering the negative sides of all the consequences brought about the result that business life is evaluated as a ball of problems and employees are seen as people who disappear in this cycle and make things even more complex. Positive Psychology The three known goals of psychology in the historical process were to discover and educate gifted individuals by treating mental illnesses, providing a more livable life for individuals in good condition and finally revealing the potential of individuals (Hodges, 2010, p. 3). The concept of positive psychology was first proposed by Abraham H. Maslow, Erich Fromm, and Carl Rogers in the context of humanistic psychology in 1960, which emphasizes the importance of psychology in terms of improving the existing problems of individuals as well as contributing to their happiness and personal development. In 1998, Martin E. P. Seligman, the president of the American Psychological Association, named the approach. Positive psychology is a new trend that focuses on the correctness rather than the mistakes that occur in individuals (Güler, 2008, p. 199). As can be seen in Figure 1, it is interpreted that two different perspectives emerge according to organizations based on positive psychology and that the concept of positive psychological capital bears the characteristics of positive organizational behavior flow. Figure 1. The relation of positive psychological capital with other concepts. Source: Luthans, Youssef, and Avolio (2006). A Research on the Measurement of Psychological Capital Purpose and Scope of the Research The aim of this study was to measure the perception levels of the sub-dimensions of psychological capital, which are hope, resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy, in the employees of Mersin Municipality working in the status of civil servants and workers, and to determine whether there are significant differences in their psychological capital in terms of demographic variables, such as gender, age, marital status, working time, educational status, household income, and service period. Sample Selection and Data Collection In empirical research, it is very important that the sample number has a structure that provides robust results in order to avoid bias and systematic error in the process of data collection. In this study, questionnaires were applied to the employees of Mersin Municipality civil servants and workers by face-to-face method. In the data entry phase, a total of 23 questionnaires were excluded from the analysis due to the fact that most of the questions were left blank, and a total of 431 questionnaires were used for the application. Six thousand and six hundred people work as civil servants and workers in Mersin Municipality. So, the total population is 6,600 people. When 10,000 people are considered as the total population in Table 1, for p = 0.5 and q = 0.5, the sample of 370 is sufficient. In this study, both group difference and relationship analysis will be performed. Power analysis was performed with G*POWER 3.1 version in order to determine the potential of the number of the municipal employees who agreed to participate in the survey in terms of producing robust results. In the studies conducted by Cohen (1988) and Prajapati, Dunne, and Armstrong (2010), it was determined that statistical power at 1 – β = 0.95 was sufficient, and the results were obtained by stating that relations and group differences would be calculated. Statistical significance level was determined as α = 0.05. As a result of the power analysis, it was determined that the study would be valid if at least 115 samples were used. In this study, 431 samples were used and it was determined that the analyses to be performed would yield reliable results. Table 1 Sample Size Table Total population size  0.03 sampling error (d) 0.05 sampling error (d) 0.10 sampling error (d) p = 0.5 q = 0.5 p = 0.8 q = 0.2 p = 0.3 q = 0.7 p = 0.5 q = 0.5 p = 0.8 q = 0.2 p = 0.3 q = 0.7 p = 0.5 q = 0.5 p = 0.8 q = 0.2 p = 0.3 q = 0.7 100 92 87 90 80 71 77 49 38 45 500 341 289 321 217 165 196 81 55 70 750 441 358 409 254 185 226 85 57 73 1,000 516 406 473 278 198 244 88 58 75 2,500 748 537 660 333 224 286 93 60 78 5,000 880 601 760 357 234 303 94 61 79 10,000 964 639 823 370 240 313 95 61 80 25,000 1,023 665 865 378 244 319 96 61 80 50,000 1,045 674 881 381 245 321 96 61 81 100,000 1,056 678 888 383 245 322 96 61 81 1,000,000 1,066 682 896 384 246 323 96 61 81 100 million 1,067 683 896 384 245 323 96 61 81 Source: Yazıcıoğlu and Erdoğan (2004, p. 50). Figure 2. Power analysis results screen shot for correlation analysis. Figure 3. Power analysis results screen shot for group difference analysis. As a result of the power analysis, it was determined that the study would be valid if at least 176 samples were used in group difference tests. In this study, 431 samples were used and it was shown that the analyses to be performed would be reliable. Assumptions and Limitations of the Research It was assumed that the participants expressed their true feelings and thoughts while answering the questions in the scale. It was accepted that the participants voluntarily responded to the questionnaire and answered it correctly and completely. It was accepted that the participants understood the words literally when answering the questions. Conceptual misconceptions that could occur were ignored. There were some difficulties in increasing the number of samples in the survey and the employees stated that they would not participate in the study due to their intense work. The fact that employees did not view participation in the survey positively could be considered an important limitation. On the other hand, the survey was conducted during working hours between 02.12.2017 and 15.12.2017, and the employees who were on leave and were at hospital were excluded from the sample. Data Collection Method and Tool In order to determine the level of psychological capital, a 24-item with 5-point Likert scale “PsyCap Questionnaire (PCQ)” developed by Luthans et al. (2007a; 2007b) was used. There are four sub-components of this scale. On the psychological capital scale, Items 1 to 6 measure optimism, 7 to 12 hope, 13 to 18 resilience, and 19 to 24 self-efficacy, respectively. Items 1, 3, and 16 on the scale are reverse questions and their codes are adapted when entering data to the computer. In the original scale, the number and order of the items are different. In this study, the format which was adapted to Turkish and tested for validity and reliability by Çetin and Basım (2012) was taken as the basis. The 5-point Likert scale used in the relevant sections of the questionnaire was coded as “1 = Never”, “2 = Rarely”, “3 = Occasionally”, “4 = Frequently”, and “5 = Always”. The first part of the questionnaire is intended to measure general and demographic information about the participants and the institution. The second part covers the psychological capital scale. The Turkish adaptation of the psychological capital scale was made by Çetin and Basım (2012). And in that study which they carried out on two different samples, they found the reliability coefficients of the scale as 0.67 for optimism, 0.81 for hope, 0.68 for psychological resilience, and 0.85 for self-efficacy, and the overall reliability coefficient of the scale was found to be 0.91, and thus they reported that the reliability and validity of the scale were acceptable. Hypotheses of the Research The hypotheses to be tested in line with the purpose of the research were determined as follows: H1: The “hope” dimension of psychological capital components varies across gender, age, marital status, working time, education level, household income, and service period. H2: “Resilience” dimension of psychological capital components varies across gender, age, marital status, working time, education level, household income, and service period. H3: The “optimism” dimension of psychological capital components varies across gender, age, marital status, working time, education level, household income, and service period. H4: The “hope” dimension of psychological capital components varies across gender, age, marital status, working time, education level, household income, and service period. H5: The components of psychological capital, hope, resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy are positively correlated with each other. Data Analysis and Findings Research Method The data obtained from the scale used in the study were analyzed using IBM SPSS 22.0 package program. In the first stage, frequency distributions related to general information on demographic information were presented. In the second stage, reliability and validity analyses were performed by examining the distribution of the scale used in the study. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was used first to test the hypotheses. Afterwards, Kolmogorov-Simirnov and Shapiro-Wilk normality tests were performed for each dimension of the psychological capital scale, which was subdivided into sub-dimensions. Since the distribution of the data did not fit the normal distribution, in order to test group differences, Mann-Whitney-U test for each paired group and Kruskal Wallis tests for triple and multiple groups were performed. Mean rank values were examined to determine the source of the differences between the groups. Kendall’s Tau-b correlation analysis was used to test the relationship analysis since the scale was not compatible with the normal distribution. Questionnaire Reliability Analysis The most common tests to test the reliability of a scale are “Cronbach alpha, split-half, parallel, and absolute parallel (strict)”. When Cronbach alpha test results are above 70%, it indicates that the survey was successful. Some researchers expect this value to be over 75%. The fact that the other reliability criteria are above 70% indicates that the internal consistency of the questionnaire is ensured and inferences can be trusted. As can be seen from Table 2, the percent values indicated and expected to be at the end of all four tests met the confidence criterion. Therefore, it was concluded that the sample results were consistent and reliable with high reliability values. Since all the reliability criteria that were considered exceeded 70%, it was determined that the survey was successful, that the survey was consistent in itself, and that the results would reflect the real values. Table 2 Reliability Analysis Results Reliability results of the questionnaire Cronbach alpha 0.921 Split 0.920-0.923 Parallel 0.920 Strict 0.922 Descriptive Analyses Frequency distribution analysis of demographic variables. Table 3 Frequency Distribution Table for Gender Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage Male 259 60.1 60.1 60.1 Female 172 39.9 39.9 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 4 Frequency Distribution Table for Educational Status Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage Primary school 25 5.8 5.8 5.8 High school 122 28.3 28.3 34.1 Associate degree 130 30.2 30.2 64.3 Bachelor’s degree 111 25.8 25.8 90.0 Master’s degree 43 10.0 10.0 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 5 Frequency Distribution Table for Marital Status Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage Married 205 47.6 47.6 47.6 Single 188 43.6 43.6 91.2 Divorced/Widowed 38 8.8 8.8 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 6 Frequency Distribution Table for Age Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage 29 and below 144 33.4 33.4 33.4 Between 30 and 39 193 44.8 44.8 78.2 Between 40 and 49 77 17.9 17.9 96.1 50 and above 17 3.9 3.9 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 7 Frequency Distribution Table for Monthly Average Household Income Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage Less than 1,500 TL 6 1.4 1.4 1.4 1,500-2,499 TL 21 4.9 4.9 6.3 2,500-3,499 TL 129 29.9 29.9 36.2 3,500-4,499 TL 170 39.4 39.4 75.6 4,500-5,500 TL 65 15.1 15.1 90.7 More than 5,500 TL 40 9.3 9.3 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 8 Frequency Distribution Table for Total Professional Service Period Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage 1 to 5 years 133 30.9 30.9 30.9 6 to 10 years 122 28.3 28.3 59.2 11 to 15 years 87 20.2 20.2 79.4 16 to 20 years 63 14.6 14.6 94.0 21 years and above 26 6.0 6.0 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 9 Frequency Distribution Table for Working Period in the Current Institution Variable Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage 1 to 5 years 157 36.4 36.4 36.4 6 to 10 years 124 28.8 28.8 65.2 11 to 15 years 29 6.7 6.7 71.9 16 to 20 years 44 10.2 10.2 82.1 21 years and above 77 17.9 17.9 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Frequency distribution results for psychological capital scale dimensions. In the study, the average overall response rate was 4.13 for 4 dimensions. If the average response score of the participants was 4.13 and above, psychological capital perception was high and those who were below 4.13 had low psychological capital. Table 10 Frequency Distribution Table for Mersin Municipality Employees’ Perception of Psychological Capital Frequency Percentage Valid percentage Cumulative percentage Low perception of psychological capital 147 34.1 34.1 34.1 High perception of psychological capital 284 65.9 65.9 100.0 Total 431 100.0 100.0 Table 11 Frequency Distribution Analysis for Optimism Dimension Never Rarely Occasionally Frequently Always Avg. ± SD *1. In this workplace, things usually do not run the way I want. 1.9 2.1 11.1 6.5 78.4 4.58 ± 0.904 2. When there are uncertainties for me in my work, I always deserve the best. 31.3 2.8 9.3 23.7 32.9 3.24 ± 1.668 *3. If something is going to go wrong for me in my work, it definitely goes that way. 14.4 14.4 17.4 11.4 42.5 3.53 ± 1.501 4. I always see the good side of my work. 2.1 2.1 17.4 20.0 58.5 4.31 ± 0.969 5. I am optimistic about what will happen to me in the future regarding my work. 2.1 4.4 12.3 18.8 62.4 4.35 ± 0.995 6. I approach the events that I encounter about my work saying “every cloud has a silver lining”. - - 8.8 36.7 54.5 4.46 ± 0.652 General 4.07 ± 0.553 Note. * Percentage values are presented by adapting codes for inverse questions. Table 12 Frequency Distribution Analysis for Optimism Dimension Never Rarely Occasionally Frequently Always Avg. ± Sd. 7. I am fulfilling the business goals I have determined for myself at this time. 3.9 4.9 12.5 11.4 67.3 4.33 ± 1.114 8. I think there are many ways to solve any problem. 6.5 23.7 7.9 27.4 34.6 3.6 ± 1.341 9. If I find myself in a dilemma while working, I think of many ways to get rid of this situation. 1.9 7.9 15.1 49.0 26.2 3.99 ± 2.149 10. I see myself as very successful in my work right now. 7.2 13.2 19.7 28.5 31.3 3.64 ± 1.248 11. I strictly follow the objectives related to my work. - - 10.2 33.9 55.9 4.46 ± 0.673 12. I think of many ways to achieve my current work goals. 1.4 3.2 9.3 18.8 67.3 4.47 ± 0.894 General 4.08 ± 0.398 Table 13 Frequency Distribution Analyses for Resilience Dimension Never Rarely Occasionally Frequently Always Avg. ± Sd. 13. If I have to, I can do my job on my own. - - 10.7 28.5 60.8 4.50 ± 0.682 14. I feel that I can handle things that may arise about my work on my own. 1.4 33.4 20.6 21.8 22.7 3.31 ± 1.193 15. I usually handle the difficulties in my work in some way. 5.3 22.0 19.5 37.6 15.5 3.36 ± 1.142 *16. When I encounter something wrong in my work, I have trouble getting over it. 17.9 17.9 16.9 16.0 31.3 3.25 ± 1.500 17. I usually handle the stressful things in my work in a calm way. 2.3 9.3 23.0 26.0 39.4 3.91 ± 1.095 18. Because I have had difficulties before, I believe that I will overcome the difficulties related to my work. 0.9 1.4 5.6 66.1 26.0 4.15 ± 0.659 General 3.74 ± 0.518 Note. * Percentage values are presented by adapting codes for inverse questions. Table 14 Frequency Distribution Analysis for Self-Efficacy Dimension Never Rarely Occasionally Frequently Always Avg. ± Sd. 19. I trust myself when presenting information to my colleagues. 0.5 0.2 3.9 19.0 76.3 4.71 ± 0.598 20. I trust myself in setting goals/objectives in my work area. 0.5 0.5 5.3 19.7 74.0 4.66 ± 0.644 21. I trust myself in explaining my own field of work in the meetings which also include the management. 0.7 2.1 5.6 19.0 72.6 4.61 ± 0.748 22. I trust myself while trying to find a solution to a long-term problem. 0.2 2.3 10.4 17.9 69.1 4.53 ± 0.791 23. I trust myself in contributing to the discussions on the strategy of the organization. - - 9.7 27.8 62.4 4.53 ± 0.667 24. I trust myself when contacting external parties (suppliers, consumers) to discuss problems. - - 7.2 30.2 62.6 4.55 ± 0.626 General 4.60 ± 0.074 Exploratory Factor Analysis In the exploratory factor analysis process for the scales, the suitability of the data to factor analysis was first tested. Accordingly, the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) sample adequacy of the data set was found to be 0.935, which is above the good value of 0.70. The Bartlett sphericity test, which measures the consistency of the items/variables analyzed, was found statistically significant (χ2 = 4581.367 and p = 0.000). As a result of the tests, it was determined that the sample to be used for exploratory factor analysis was sufficient and the suitability of the factor analysis was determined. After confirming the suitability of the data set with the tests, “varimax” rotation method and principal components analysis method were applied as factor retention method in order to reveal the factor structure. In the factor structure, a 4-factor structure explaining 76.79% of the total variance was determined. As a result of factor analysis, questions whose value is below 0.20 in the extraction column should be excluded from the analysis as Costello and Osborne (2005) stated that their effect on variance change is negligible. In the studies conducted in the social sciences, the variance explained in the multi-factor designed between 40% and 60% is considered sufficient. Since the six dimensions explained 76.79% of the change in the variance, the explanatory rate of the factors was found to be sufficient. Group Difference Tests The normality test was applied to the factors obtained as a result of factor analysis. Table 15 Normality Test Kolmogorov-Smirnov Shapiro-Wilk Statistics SD p Statistics SD p Optimism 0.141 431 0.000 0.935 431 0.000 Hope 0.074 431 0.000 974 431 0.000 Self-efficacy 0.299 431 0.000 0.768 431 0.000 Resilience 0.055 431 0.003 0.978 431 0.000 As can be seen in both normality test results, since p < 0.05 value is obtained, H1 hypothesis is accepted, which indicates that normal distribution is not provided. Relationship Analysis It is accepted that there are significant relationships between optimism, hope, resilience, and self-efficacy, which are the dimensions of psychological capital, which is the sub-hypothesis of the study. Kendall’s Tau-b correlation analysis was performed because the data did not provide a normal distribution. Table 16 Relationship Analysis Results of Psychological Capital Dimensions Self-efficacy Resilience Optimism Hope Kendall’s Tau-b Self-efficacy r 1 0.716* 0.734* 0.751* p 0.000 0.000 0.000 Resilience r 1 0.640* 0.699* p 0.000 0.000 Optimism r 1 0.796* p 0.000 Hope r 1 p Note. * Statistically significant relationship for 0.05 and 0.01. As self-efficacy increases, resilience will increase to 71.6%, optimism will increase to 73.4%, and hope will increase to 75.1%. As resilience increases, optimism will increase to 64%, and hope dimension will increase to 69.9%. As optimism increases, hope dimension will increase to 79.6%. Positive and high relationships were determined between all dimensions. In order to increase the perception of psychological capital, it is necessary to increase the perception levels of the components. Thus, the sub-hypotheses were also confirmed. Conclusion and Suggestions Organizations aim to ensure the highest level of return in return for the products or services they produce. The traditional types of capital required for this purpose are not sufficient by themselves. Today, the fact that tools, such as economic capital, technology, R&D studies, public relations, and marketing strategies can be replicated by competing organizations makes it difficult for organizations to gain edge in competition. At this point, the human factor comes into play. Human capital is the most important type of capital for organizations. This precious capital affects business priorities and strategic perspective. Psychological capital is one of the factors that make significant differences in the performance of human capital. Today, many organizations expect their employees to be more creative, comment on the organization and take more responsibility. It has been determined that psychological capital is related to many positive results for employees and organizations in management research. Thus, the concept of psychological capital emerges as positive human resource capital, which continues to develop and continues to be studied with its potential elements. The fact that employees with high psychological capital have better job performance makes it necessary for human resources managers to make more systematic and planned efforts to improve the psychological capital of employees in their organizations. First of all, exploratory studies can be carried out to determine the level of psychological capital of the current employees and their suitability with their jobs. For this purpose, the process of determining the “psychological capital profile” of the organization and the “organizational psychological capital profile” can be applied. These applications can be extended to include different business units. In the long term, it is possible to make more general inferences with averages on a sectoral and country basis. In the study, all dimensions for gender differed statistically significantly. Women and men responded to psychological capital dimensions from different perspectives. Mean rank values were examined for the source of the difference. Women gave more positive answers to the optimism dimension (mean rank value was higher), men gave more positive answers to the hope dimension, men gave more positive answers to the resilience dimension, and women gave more positive answers to the self-efficacy dimension. All dimensions for average monthly household income differed statistically significantly. While the psychological capital components were more positive as income increased, it decreased to negative as income decreased. In this case, income growth is a factor that strengthens psychological capital. The psychological capital levels of the employees can be used as basic data in the stages of training planning, performance evaluation, and career planning. It can be ensured that psychological capital development trainings are taken in order to ensure the development of important business outputs, particularly performance improvement. In addition, while the data on psychological capital levels provide an important input in the performance evaluation process, in case of a decrease in performance, it can serve as an important tool for the identification and elimination of performance problems in individual, group, and departmental dimensions. These data can be used for career development goals in shifting employees to tasks that are appropriate to their level of psychological capital in the career planning, or training them for positions considered. In addition, individuals’ psychological capital data can be used as a “selection criterion” in the recruitment and placement process. By reviewing human resources policies and taking into account the nature of the work concerned, organizations can assign candidate employees to jobs that are appropriate to their psychological capital levels and use this information as a criterion for their placement in the appropriate job. It may be possible to make the organization more authentic by making the organization more positive and more supportive in organizations in which employees with high psychological capital are employed due to the nature of the work. In addition, more opportunities will be provided for employees to turn their psychological capital into desired organizational outcomes. Although this process spans over a long period of time, the planned and systematic effort will enable the organization to gain competitive advantage and turn this power into a self-capability. The most important quality of psychological capital is that its components of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience are measurable and open to development. These features, which are stated to have an effect that increases performance, provides job satisfaction, and thus increases the happiness of the individual in working life, should be gained by individuals through the necessary trainings. In order to increase the level of positive psychological capital, to increase employees’ commitment to the organization, and to ensure their continuity in the organization, employers need to create appropriate conditions for employees, support training and career plans, set achievable goals, reduce risks, and increase support and ensure that the employee is willing to stay in the organization through such practices. References Abbas, M., & Raja, U. (2011). Impact of psychological capital on innovative performance and job stress. 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