TH-P02-048 - Realistic optimism in the workplace: The (mis)match in leader-follower optimism and followers’ performance

Track:
Leadership and followership
What:
Poster Presentation
When:
3 hours 30 minutes
Where:
O'Brien Foyer
Discussion:
0
 
Leadership and management
Leadership and followership
TH-P02-048
Realistic optimism in the workplace: The (mis)match in leader-follower optimism and followers’ performance
A. Bunjak 1,*, M. Černe 1, S. I. Wong 2
1Department of Management and Organization , Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway
 
Content:  
 
Purpose
The aim of this paper is to examine the joint effect of leaders’ and followers’ optimistic and pessimistic cognitive characteristics. We focus on examining how leaders’ and followers’ optimism (mis)match in predicting followers’ performance. We further investigate why too much of optimism and pessimism could be reflected negatively on performance in the workplace. The concept of realism is thus introduced and discussed.
 
Design/Methodology
We conducted an experimental study with a student sample (n=54). The study had a two-by-two (leader optimism/leader pessimism x follower optimism/follower pessimism) between-subject factorial design. In the study, we manipulated leader’s optimism/pessimism and we classified the other two conditions using low/high participants’ (followers’) optimism/pessimism based on the split means approach.
 
Results
The highest levels of performance were found in two conditions: (1) when leaders' scored high in optimism and when followers' were low in optimism, and (2) when leaders' were high in optimism and when followers' were low in pessimism.
 
Limitations
Data were collected from a student sample, thus we cannot claim the generalizability and external validity of the results.
 
Research/Practical Implications
Our results have implications for positive leadership research that has considered the role of positive leader characteristics on performance, as well as the fact that both, optimists and pessimists are needed. However, the specific direction of the leaders’ and followers’ positivity influence on performance remained unclear, without accounting for potentially too much of optimism and pessimism.
 
Originality/Value
This is the first paper to examine the interactive effect between leaders’ and follower’s optimism/pessimism on performance.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

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