The implications of positive psychological capital on leaders of higher educational institutions during challenging and changing times

Silva, Dhammika (2014) The implications of positive psychological capital on leaders of higher educational institutions during challenging and changing times. Masters thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Leaders in Higher Educational institutions are courageous people who continually try to accomplish great things for their Institutions under extremely challenging and complex conditions. These leaders see the need for action, believe in their actions and through inspiration and motivation of others, thrive to keep up with the changing and challenging trends. Against the background of challenge and change in higher education, the aim of this study is:  To examine how positive Psychological Capital (PsyCap) in terms of Optimism, Hope, Self-efficacy and Resilience affect leaders in Higher Educational Institutions during challenging and changing times.  To examine the understanding of ‘Authentic leadership’ by leaders within Higher Educational Institutions.  To examine Higher Educational Leader’s challenges and changing factors. Throughout history, studies have revealed that the differences between success and failure and influences on staff morality and performance can be attributed largely to leadership practices. Within Higher Educational Institutions, it is no different. The practice of leadership has been defined in terms of “personality, compliance, persuasion, power, goal achievement, interaction, role differentiation, and initiation of structure” (Luthans, 1992, p.269-270). However, Luthans (1992) argues, that terms are not important and what matters is ‘good leadership practices’. This not only makes a difference for Institutional success but also provides for the satisfaction, commitment and positive performance of professionals within the Institution. Due to the complexities of the dynamic environment, Higher Educational Institutions are in growing need of leaders who understand these complexities and who have the skills to deal with complex problems and the ability to empathise with their followers to motive them to strive for excellence. Though challenges for leaders in Higher Educational Institutions are many, during challenging times, leadership can be even more challenging. Nevertheless, it is during these difficult times that leaders need to practice genuine authenticity. Luthans and Avolio (2003) indicate that with authentic leadership qualities, leaders are able to develop strategy that will become relevant and then the urgent need for desirable outcomes will become essential (Luthans & Avolio, 2003: Seligman, 2002). Authentic leadership is a new area of leadership research, which is still in the formative phase of development. Northouse (2013) argues that with the many corporate scandals that have plagued the world during the past years, ‘people feel apprehensive and insecure’ (pg. 253). He goes on to further elaborate that for this reason, people are longing for leadership that they are able to trust (Northhouse, 2013). This study describes the concept of authentic leadership simultaneously with a discussion of the relationships between authentic leadership and the positive PsyCap of leaders during challenging times. The constructs of PsyCap discussed in this study includes optimism, hope, resilience and self-efficacy. Positive PsyCap is an individual’s positive psychological state of development and is characterized by making a positive attribution, about succeeding now and in the future (optimism); persevering toward goals and when necessary, redirecting paths to goals, in order to succeed (hope); when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond to attain success (resilience) and having confidence to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks (self-efficacy); to attain success (Luthans, et al, 2007). Each of the components of PsyCap are outlined below, and the relevance to the study has been identified. The optimism aspect of positive PsyCap in leaders suggests that when faced with failures, leaders are able to make positive attributions. Having a high degree of optimism helps to explain how leaders are able to evaluate and assess challenges they face. As a result, optimism is portrayed in this study as an important ingredient in the development of authentic leaders. It considers that leaders who are optimistic, who have a positive outlook of their roles would be better equipped in motivating and inspiring their staff in overcoming challenges. This in turn makes staff committed and passionate about working for the Institution. The positive PsyCap concept of hope demonstrates the determination and the effort leaders in Higher Educational Institutions invest in order to attain Institutional goals. The sub sets of hope, (1) setting paths, (2) redirecting actions if needed or taking alternative courses of action where needed in order to attain these goals and (3) maintaining momentum to the path are covered in hope. The study indicates that leaders who portray higher levels of hope lead their Institutions to higher success with higher performing and better satisfied staff. Being resilient during challenging times, is demonstrated when leaders show the capability to be able to cope successfully with stress and complexity. All leaders portray a different degree of resiliency. Leaders show their openness to development during uncertainty and adversity. When leaders are resilient in themselves, no doubt their staff would be committed to their work. The leaders with high self-efficacy refer to confidence in oneself and leaders thus perceive they have the ability to take action during challenging times and be successful in a given task. In addition, they are tenacious in maintaining effort towards tasks despite encountering problems along the way. When leaders stay positive during challenging times, their staff would inherent the behaviour of success. This study recognises the critical importance of all the components of positive PsyCap, and this also relates to understanding authentic leadership, in that when leaders portray positive PsyCap abilities, they are able to perform their duties in a very authentic manner. PsyCap recognises and focuses on psychological strengths that are open to development and which enable leaders to thrive and flourish and have a positive impact on performance outcomes during challenging times. The study also stresses the importance of leaders’ PsyCap on the morale and job satisfaction of their staff in order to achieve their goals. This study reports on interviews with 5 Leaders of 2 Higher Educational Institutions. The interviews were transcribed to form the analysis of exploring the role of PsyCap in leaders during challenging and changing times, to clarify the leaders’ understanding of the role, attitudes and practices of authenticity in leadership and factors of challenges and changes that are affecting leaders in Higher Educational Institutions.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Keywords that describe the item:Leader authenticity, positive psychological capital, change
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions:Schools > Centre for Business, Information Technology and Enterprise > School of Business and Adminstration
ID Code:3406
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Deposited On:19 Nov 2014 01:46
Last Modified:25 May 2015 04:16

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