Using Positivity, Transformational Leadership and Empowerment to Combat Employee Negativity

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date



Purpose – The purpose of this study is to hypothesize and test a conceptual model linking concepts of leadership and positive organizational behavior to a reduction in employee negativity, with empowerment as an important mediator in the causal relationships.

Design/methodology/approach – A heterogeneous sample of 341 working adults completed survey measures as two separate points in time. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to validate psychometric properties of instruments, and path analysis using structural equation modeling software was used to test hypotheses.

Findings – As hypothesized, both transformational leadership (β=0.27) and positive psychological capital (hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism) (β=0.61) were significantly related to feelings of empowerment. Empowerment was significantly related to intentions to quit (β=−0.38) but not employee cynicism. Empowerment also fully mediated the relationship between the independent variables and intentions to quit.

Research limitations/implications – A convenience sampling method limited the generalizability of results. Causal and longitudinal research designs would extend findings discussed here. Implications for management are significant in terms of countering employee negativity using leadership processes, employee selection and development.

Originality/value – This study offers the first conceptual model integrating emerging concepts from positive organizational behavior, in the form of positive psychological capacities, with validated leadership models (transformational leadership). Both were suggested to influence negative outcomes, with empowerment as an effective mediator of these relationships. Findings generally support the hypotheses advanced herein.


This article was originally published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Leadership & Organization Development Journal


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