Academic journal article Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

In the Eyes of the Beholder: Transformational Leadership, Positive Psychological Capital, and Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

In the Eyes of the Beholder: Transformational Leadership, Positive Psychological Capital, and Performance

Article excerpt

This article develops and tests a conceptual model of followers' perceptions of transformational leadership as an antecedent to their positive psychological capital--a higher-order construct that represents an individual's motivational propensity and perseverance toward goals. Positive psychological capital, in turn, has in-role performance and organizational citizenship behavior as consequences. Structural equation modeling results support the relationship between followers' perceptions of transformational leadership and positive psychological capital, as well as the relationship between positive psychological capital and each performance outcome. Implications of these results are discussed regarding the literatures of transformational leadership and positive organizational behavior.

Keywords: transformational leadership; positive psychological capital; structural equation modeling


Transformational leadership and its impact on followers behavioral and attitudinal outcomes are well documented in organizational research (e.g., Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996). However, an emerging stream of inquiry focuses on followers' psychological reactions that translate transformational leadership into favorable behavioral outcomes (e.g., Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006). The study of positive organizational behavior has also gained prominence in the organizational sciences, driven by an emphasis on managing employees' positive psychological capital (PsyCap; see Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007). Our work proposes that followers' perceptions of transformational leadership serve as an important antecedent to the development of their PsyCap. Drawing on psychological resource theory, we propose that PsyCap in turn influences a range of performance outcomes.

Our work contributes to both the transformational leadership literature and the positive organizational behavior literature. With regard to transformational leadership, this study answers recent scholarly calls for research focused on understanding how transformational leadership affects followers' performance (e.g., Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006). We investigate PsyCap as one such mechanism. Our work is in line with the stream of emerging empirical work that examines the mechanisms through which PsyCap may be developed among followers (cf. Luthans, Avey, & Patera, 2008; Luthans, Norman, Avolio, & Avey, 2008). Although this study does not include an examination of the domain of authentic leadership, we note that Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, May and Walumbwa (2005) suggest that authentic leaders can develop followers' positive psychological states and resources via their own role modeling. Our theoretical contribution lies in the development of a model that connects the motivational impact of a transformational leader to the motivational propensity inherent in PsyCap. Furthermore, this article extends such a contribution through an examination of a range of followers' performance outcomes based on PsyCap. We know of no prior work that connects the well-established domain of transformational leadership as an antecedent to followers' PsyCap and, in turn, their performance outcomes. (1)

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership theory is founded on the assertion that leaders can arouse followers to high levels of performance by appealing to their values, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs (Bass, 1985). Key dimensions of transformational leadership include the following: articulating a vision, fostering the acceptance of group goals, modeling behaviors consistent with the articulated vision, providing individualized support and consideration, setting high performance expectations, and providing intellectual stimulation (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Bommer, 1996; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990). Specifically, articulating a vision encompasses a leader's behaviors that identify new opportunities and inspire others through his or her vision of the future. …

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