Predicting Professional Competencies Using Measures of Psychological Capital and Psychological Ownership.

Author:Khan, Hamid


"Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary."--Warren G. Bennis Study the exemplary--I always wanted to know the traits of and truth about 100 greatest leaders of all times in any generation. And, I have always wanted to do research on "American Exceptionalism." Where else will you find such leaders, except in the citadels and within the walls of great American universities? If at all they exist in modern times today, they must exist within the concrete walls or in campuses of American universities as living, breathing professors of repute, imbued with leadership par excellence, as history is the testimony of their greatness!

Exceptionalism, by its definition, is the perception that a country, individual, leader, institution, movement, species, society, or even a time period is considered as "exceptional" (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way.

In its classic form, American exceptionalism refers to the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty. Because of this spirit, individuals exhibit unique behaviors in leadership styles.

Hence, the definition of exceptionalism derived from the above precept is the condition or conviction of being different from the norm- it is also basis of exemplifying personal behavior or style, pertaining to a nation, or in individuals.

We know that such leaders existed in history and the lofty ideals of a young American nation have always promoted the free spirit of being different.

French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville first defined American Exceptionalism as,

The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin... have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite... from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1945, p.20) As an example of above, for the pursuit of perfection, and in defense of it, global leadership and organizational behavior (GLOBE) research found in a global study of American CEO's, Leaders and Managers that,

In the United States, leaders are expected to show impeccable levels of integrity and performance orientation. They're expected to develop and communicate an inspirational vision. They're also expected to effectively manage team dynamics and be administratively competent. They need to be decisive while demonstrating high levels of participation and diplomacy. They need to avoid self-centered and self-protective actions and work effectively with others. (House, Dorfman, Javidan, Hanges, & de Luque, 2014, p. 348) "For leaders to get results they need all three kinds of focus. Inner focus attunes us to our intuitions, guiding values, and better decisions. Other focus smooths our connections to the people in our lives. And outer focus lets us navigate the larger world. A leader tuned out of his internal world will be a rudderless; one blind to the world of others will be clueless; those indifferent to the larger systems within which they operate will be blindsided" Goleman (2013). The Venn diagram below indicates the three intersecting constructs: inner psychological capital, outer psychological ownership, and the other--leadership style as the resultant behavior. The intersection is important for development of leadership with focus on excellence, which is the intended outcome (or American Exceptionalism.). Goleman has noted these intersections of competencies with focus on excellence. See figure 1.


Cognitive Input of Professionalism and Competence

Luthans (2002), a great American professor specializing first in Organizational Behavior and later on Positive Organizational Behavior, has contributed to the American passion for exceptionalism. He conducted research on emerging positive psychology for a span of five decades, pioneering in the spirit of American Exceptionalism through his work on Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) and its outcomes. His recent articles focus on the need for and meaning of a positive approach to organizational behavior. This focus has been instrumental for this research which gives motivation to the investigation of American Exceptionalism of university professors.

Much is expected and needed in the realization of American Exceptionalism in the world stage of teaching, research, service - whichever is needed to define scholarship in isolation or in combination thereof, about these three dimensions of scholarship bestowed upon us by the new dawn of American scholarship. Specifically, the argument is made that at this time, the Organizational Behavior field that applies Psychology and Organizational Commitment for excellence in performance needs a proactive approach to thinking. It also needs a positive approach to the application of psychological capital as well as psychological ownership of university professors in demonstrating outcomes of leadership. This outcome must emphasize increasing strengths and effectiveness in organizational behavior for positive outcomes in job performance using personal development and organizational commitment.

Hence, Luthans' invented paradigm of positive organizational behavior (POB) provides strength to organizational behavior using empirical research on theory and driven by modern research methodologies. In later advancements, as of today, additional criteria for new positive organizational behavior (POB) in the form of Psychological Capital and Psychological Ownership have germinated the field with intense empirical research and application. Such POBs, Luthans asserts, "are to identify unique, state-like psychological capacities that can not only be validly measured, but also be open to development and performance management." Four distinct facets of Hope, Optimism, Resiliency, and Self-efficacy (or, horse) are integrated into one construct called Psychological Capital; and the other called Psychological Ownership is comprised of five facets: Territoriality, Ease of belonging, Accountability, Self-efficacy and Relational identity (or, teaser to spur the horse) (Avey & Avolio, 2007). The overall intent of this research is to prove that Psychological Capital and Psychological Ownership can predict professors' Leadership styles.

Avolio and Gardner (2005) also have addressed the present and future leadership needs and have developed a model of leader and follower paradigm and examined the process of leadership and followership with a keen eye on, what they call a veritable relationship for sustained follower performance. This is a developmental process of leader and follower self-awareness and self-regulation, they assert. The influence of the leader's and followers' personal histories and trigger events are considered as antecedents of leadership and followership, as well as the reciprocal effects with an inclusive, ethical, caring and strength-based organizational climate. This is probably a sort of leader-member exchange that keeps on growing and growing to a level of extreme symbiosis, yielding a very positive relationship that is viewed by them as a primary means of developing followers. They argue that such outcomes of leader--follower relationships include heightened levels of follower trust in the leader, engagement, workplace well-being that produces veritable, sustainable performance on the part of the leader and follower alike.

Rowland and Higgs (2008) in their Harvard Business Review article assert that it is better to influence leaders' 'being', and not just their 'doing'." They argue with strong evidence that leadership development isn't developing leaders, and "have found that leaders need to work on the quality of their inner game, or their capacity to tune into and regulate their emotional and mental states, before they can hope to develop their outer game, or what it is they need to actually do." So, leadership development should start by working on the inner game, which Luthans and Avolio (2007) also promote with Psychological Capital, and then use the outer game which is the Psychological Ownership. In the Venn diagram presented above, Goleman also uses the inner and outer concepts or states. Rowland and Higgs (2008) also lament that, "It's very hard for leaders to have courageous conversations about unhelpful reality until they can regulate their anxiety about appearing unpopular and until they've built their systemic capacity to view disturbance as transformational, not dysfunctional." This is what Lathans et al. (2004) have also professed with PsyCap and PsyGown as an alternative approach to leadership development.

Rowland and Higgs (2008) argue that this goal can be achieved by predicting...

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