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Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing

Lead Editor

Rob Koonce, Creighton University, USA

Associate Editors

Paula Robinson, Positive Psychology Institute, Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, Australia
Bernd Vogel, Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK

Call for Case Proposals

Deadline: June 1, 2016

As revealed in the most recent global survey of human capital trends conducted by Deloitte University, leadership is rated as the greatest priority across all organizational levels, geographies, and functional areas in every industry (Schwartz, Bersin, & Pelster, 2014). The focus of leadership is also rapidly shifting with future development being less about individual leaders at the top of organizations and increasingly about helping collective leadership throughout organizations to flourish (DeRue & Myers, 2014; Petrie, 2014). Helping leadership to flourish requires creating the necessary conditions through which positive organizing can thrive (Cooperrider & Sekerka, 2003; Dutton, Roberts, & Bednar, 2010; Grant, 2013; Hetzner, Gartmeier, Heid, & Gruber, 2011; Lee, Caza, Edmondson, & Thomke, 2003). Petrie (2014) suggests that managers have also become “experts on the ‘what’ of leadership”, while remaining “novices in the ‘how’ of their own leadership development”. Furthermore, Petriglieri & Petriglieri (2015) extend leadership development concerns to business schools; the identities of its administrators, faculty, and students; as well as the workplaces in which business school graduates follow and lead.  Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing responds to these concerns by bringing awareness to how future leadership development efforts can be used to create more positive work environments, particularly during challenging times of change, emergence, discretion, and ambiguity.

As recognized by DeRue and Workman (2012), leadership is not about individuals; it is a relational (Dutton & Heaphy, 2003; Howell & Shamir, 2005; Stephens & Carmeli, in press; Uhl-Bien, 2006; Vacharkulksemsuk & Frederickson, 2013), socially co-constructed and emergent process (Kilburg & Donohue, 2011; Koonce, 2016; Shamir, 2007). Leadership is also not limited to formal relationships within the hierarchy of a single organization (Meindl, 1995), but potentially extends to informal relationships within an organization, as well as peer-type relationships with external agencies such as suppliers, consumers, and clients with whom an organization has interdependencies (Cunliffe & Eriksen, 2011; Hosking, 2007; Koonce, 2016). Within this framework reside the components for positive organizing.

While recognizing that positive organizing is founded on respectful interaction, heedful interrelating, and mindful organizing, Weick (2003) also suggests that organizing through a positive lens is made more difficult because our natural tendency is to perceive individual failures and on-going challenges through a negative lens. To overcome this negative tendency, a conscious effort must be directed toward positive deviance (Cameron, 2008, 2011) and the heliotropic, life-giving energy of living systems (Spreitzer & Cameron, 2012), as we also seek to better appreciate the interplay between context and human agency (Chaleff, 2015; Gurdjian, Halbeisen, & Lane, 2014; Kellerman, 2015; Nakamura, 2011, Rusk & Waters, 2015), as well as the merits of pursuing meaningful work (Albrecht, 2013; Wrzesniewski, LoBuglio, Dutton, & Berg, 2013) and a meaningful life (Seligman, 2011).

In an effort to further develop these critical elements of positive organizing, Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing examines leadership and leadership development through the lens of the following six key topics:

  • emergent mindset
  • courage
  • forgiveness
  • mental fitness
  • positive energy and
  • human values.


The intended audience for Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing includes practitioners, scholars and students of leadership, positive organizational development and change, human resources development, or organizational virtuousness; and corporate, not-for-profit, or non-profit executives who understand the potential ROI associated with positive organizing.

Book Contents

Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing will be divided into six sections with each section comprised of one of the six key topics and 3-4 supporting cases for each key topic. The contents of the book will not exceed 30 chapters.

Key Topics

The six key topics of Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing are emergent mindset, courage, forgiveness, mental fitness, positive energy, and human values. Please see the sections noted below for additional details relevant to each key topic.


Each of the six key topics of Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing will be supported by
3-4 additional cases. Please see the CFP submission guidelines below for additional details relevant to each case submission.

Section I: Emergent Mindset (Chapters 1-5)

As defined by Koonce (2016), leadership is “a socially co-constructed and emergent process through which people in their respective roles individually, relationally, and collectively lead and follow other people through recurrent intra-agency and inter-agency interactions in the dynamic and purposeful pursuit of intertwining organizational goals and initiatives” (p. 7). In an attempt to fully explore the emergent nature of positive organizing, this key topic will first provide an examination of the extant literature on emergence (e.g., Goldstein, 1990; Lichtenstein, & Plowman, 2009; Madden, Duchon, Madden, & Plowman, 2012; Thomas, & Hirschfeld, 2015) and mindset (e.g., Bushe, & Marshak, 2014; Dweck, 2008; Keating, & Heslin, 2015; Knox, 2003), prior to delving deeper into the concept of an emergent mindset. The concept of an emergent mindset was first introduced by Koonce (2016) as an individual, relational, and collective construct which stems from four socially co-constructed patterns of organizing to include contractual, collegial, collaborative, and cohesive orientations. In Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing, the emergent nature of mindset and its implications for furthering leadership development will be examined using relevant examples to more fully illustrate. 

Section II: Courage (Chapters 6-10)

The seminal scholarship on positive organizations has consistently emphasized how critical it is for leaders and followers to display courage (Cameron, Dutton & Quinn, 2003; Chaleff, 2003).  For example, the literature on psychological capital elevates the importance of courage (Luthans, Youssef-Morgan, & Avolio, 2015), while a myriad of scholars champion the integration of the virtues and character strengths into models of leadership (Peterson & Seligman, 2004, Gini & Green, 2013). Most scholars agree that courage has three discreet dimensions:  (1) A willingness to pursue; (2) a noble goal or purpose; (3) despite risk, danger or fear (Schwartz, 2013). Hannah, Sweeney, and Lester (2009) suggest there is a courageous mindset composed of six interrelated factors that predict how courage is produced.  Certain situations activate or produce the courage we need, while other situations rob us of courage. Moral courage is one area of courage particularly salient for leaders in the 21st century. These leader behaviors include the courage to take a principled stand, to speak truth to power, to follow one’s convictions, or to follow the harder right than the easier wrong. Another side to moral courage receives almost no scholarly attention in the leadership literature: the courage to forgive, to turn the other cheek. This key topic will further examine the relevance of courage to furthering the development of leaders for positive organizing.

Section III: Forgiveness (Chapters 11-15)

Forgiveness and forgiving are complex human actions and interactions (Hughes, 2015). Broadly characterized, forgiveness is an integral part of a person's character so that when viewing the act of forgiving, it is a reflection of an individual's inner disposition. In a similar way, there is a recognition within the forgiver of the common likeness or nature inherent within humankind—and the offender—that compels one to forgive (Aurelius & Farquharson, 1992; Epictetus, 2000; Newman, 2013; Roberts, 1995). Much of the recent empirical research focuses on the therapeutic aspect of forgiveness (Enright, 2001; Enright,, 2015; Toussaint & Webb, 2005). There is also the value of recognizing the interrelated and interconnected aspect of phusis (Φύσις) to an integrative approach to forgiveness, as well as the moral aspect of forgiveness and its correlation to group dynamics and relations. Even though the vast majority of empirical research and experiential narratives are based on individual/personal human interaction; groups and/or communities also demonstrate behaviors of moral action (Govier, 2002).

Section IV: Mental Fitness (Chapters 16-20)

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers (2014), for every dollar spent on effective workplace mental health actions, an organization derives $2.30 in potential benefits resulting from reduced presenteeism, absenteeism, and compensation claims with a likely increase in ROI when multiple targeted actions are implemented (p.4). These statistics come at a time when scholars and practitioners are calling for new and novel approaches to promote wellbeing strategies and practices in organizational settings (Keyes, 2007; Luthans, 2012). One such approach is mental fitness as first described by McCarthy (1964) and subsequently supported by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) with the formal introduction of the positive psychology paradigm. Mental fitness is an applied positive psychology approach that views an individual not only as capable of being mentally ill (presence of mental disorder), or mentally healthy (absence of a mental disorder), but also as one who is capable of achieving a more full and meaningful life by achieving even higher levels of well-being. Supported by research that revealed a viable model and measure of mental fitness (Robinson, Oades & Caputi, 2015; Robinson & Oades, in press), mental fitness will be discussed using a similar framework and language to physical fitness. Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing will further explore the concept and application of mental fitness in organizations.

Section V: Positive Energy (Chapters 21-25)

Human energy refers to individual and collective energy in organizations. Individual energy is often considered to be emotional energy (Quinn & Dutton, 2005), whereas collective energy refers to the broader emotional, cognitive, and behavioral force of a collective unit in pursuit of its goals (Bruch & Vogel, 2011; Dutton, 2003). In the last two decades, research on positive individual and collective human energy has made significant advances and has transitioned from a state in which energy was previously described as “a construct that organizational scholars use but seldom define” (Quinn & Dutton, 2005, p. 36) to an emerging field of inquiry in which its relevance to various organizationally relevant outcomes continues to be demonstrated (Quinn, Spreitzer, & Lam, 2012; Shippers & Hogenes, 2011; Vogel & Bruch, 2011). While progress has been made, many additional considerations for research on human energy remain to include assessing how individual and collective types of positive and negative energy relate to a multi-level logic including, for instance, spill-over effects and emergent phenomena, as well as how multi-episodic, temporal lenses of energy dynamics and cycles play out (e.g., Cole, Bruch & Vogel, 2012). Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing will further explore some of these considerations.

Section VI: Human Values (Chapters 26-30)

As noted by numerous scholars (e.g., Cameron, Mora & Leutscher, 2011; Ciulla, 2012; Denis, Langley, & Sergi, 2012; Drath, Palus & McGuire, 2010), conscious engagement with human values and their development is a viable pathway for positive organizing. The final key topic of Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing affords an eco-systemic look at human values using the Hall-Tonna Values System (HTVS), a comprehensive meta-theoretical framework of human development to include how it aligns with various principles of positive organizing and how it serves to achieve some of its key outcomes (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Caza & Cameron, 2008). HTVS provides a generative map that makes visible the social terrain in organizations as an interlocking network and constellation of values within and between people, as well as between the organization and its environment (Hall, 1994; Otter & Perry, 2010). By making explicit the implicit of differing values systems among and between organizational members (Otter, 2012), the HTVS also improves the ability of people to navigate and positively contribute to organizational systems (Scharmer & Kaufer, 2013).

Call for Proposal Submission Guidelines

CFP Guidelines: Initial Case Submissions (Deadline: June 1, 2016)

Submissions for the initial Call for Proposal shall consist of the following elements

On a separate title page, please include the following information:

  • Title of submission
  • Name(s)
  • Affiliation, University or Other
  • Contact information (Please also indicate any preferences for E-mail, Phone, Skype)

Following each title page, please include the following information:

  • a brief description of the proposed case study of no more than 100 words
  • a brief description of the proposed scholarly commentary of no more than 500 words

Each initial submission should be developed as a Word document, consist of no more than 600 words (inclusive of case study with scholarly commentary), and be submitted electronically using the following specifications:

  • Double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, indented paragraphs, and 1 inch margins
  • APA (6th ed.) formatting (to include title page, text, and references)

All initial proposals should be directed to Rob Koonce at [email protected] by June 1, 2016.

CFP Guidelines: Final Case Submissions (Deadline: August 15, 2016)

Each case submission chosen for final inclusion in Developing Leaders for Positive Organizing shall be composed of the following elements:

  • a case study of 750-1,000 words
  • a scholarly commentary of 1,250-1,750 words
  • discussion questions of 150-250 words (for furthering classroom and organizational dialogue, and future theoretical research)
  • 15-20 final references to promote a deeper understanding of existing literature relevant to the chosen topic of a particular case study

Each final submission shall be developed as a Word document, consist of no more than 3,500 words (inclusive of case study, scholarly commentary, discussion questions, and additional resources), and be submitted electronically using the following specifications:

  • Double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, indented paragraphs, and 1 inch margins
  • APA (6th ed.) formatting (to include title page, text, references, and any tables, figures, or appendices)

All final papers should be directed to Rob Koonce at [email protected] by August 15, 2016.

Book Timeline

June 1, 2016: Final Case Proposal Briefs to Editors
June 15, 2016: Editors to Select Final Case Authors
August 15, 2016: All Key Topics and Cases to Editors
September 9, 2016: Editors to Submit Revision Requests to Final Authors
September 30, 2016: Final Book Contents Due to Editors
October 7, 2016: Book Due to the Publisher