Guest Contributor


By | Dr Harold Andrew Patrick | Sunil kumar R

The last three decades have constantly heard the term UVCA world characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity refereeing to business environment and functioning across the globe. The word “VUCA” originated after the cold war and was extensively used in the military when faced with complex situations owing to various uncertain aspects. In recent eons the term resonates towards the current economic and business context,which organisations are facing due to constant global market changes due to global economic effects, recession, perpetual restructuring, downsizing, and changes in technology, cultural, social and now pandemic: Covid-19. Business leaders are focusing more on negativity than being positive and are finding corporate environment miserable in an irrepressible negative corkscrew. As the trying times have become the new norm and here to stay. What should be the leadership approach to address the new norms in times of uncertainty?

Organisational leaders are recognizing the new norms and are trying to adjust by responding to the situations. As organisations are forced to weather change and needs leaders who can take responsibility for motivating and navigating through  trying times towards building trust, articulating a vision, better engagement with participation, having perceived justice, customer centric to safeguard against financial suffering and promoting a flourishing environment.  To manage these organisational perceptions and to build organisational effectiveness, it is important to examine leader’s positive deviance and its influences. Positive deviance is an approach towards behavioural and social changes which enables a positive effect on organisation and individuals. Research indicates that certain leadership behaviour can stimulate positive deviance, i.e. articulating inspiring vision through transparency, instilling sense of empowerment through trust (Cameron, 2012). The fundamental characteristics that standout among effective leaders are their positivity in challenging times, authenticity to serve both in group and out group members, share power and empower members to experience growth and development, and strive towards wholeness and integration of goals.

Positive psychology has major influence on leader’s behaviour at workplace creating optimistic workforce aligning employees ‘role and responsibility as per their strength and reinforcing positivity by regularly recognizing their efforts. Positive leadership applies the theory of positive psychology(Seligman, 1998), positive organisational scholarship (Cameroon, Dutton and Quinn, 2003) and positive change (Cooperrider and Srivastva, 1987). Further emphasising on these factors “positive deviant performance, affirmative bias and virtuousness” (Cameroon, 2012). Positive deviance is the “X” factor that distinguishes positive leaders from the rest. The strategies adopted for “extraordinary performance is by creating a positive climate, building relationship, communication and meaning” (Cameroon, 2012).Leaders who appreciate and focus on individual’s in-built competencies or strengthsincrease their engagement and well-being. Have long range perspective in terms of de-catastrophizing setbacks, solution orientation, and positive interpretation of the problem. At the same time recognise and encourage individuals contribution frequently (Arakawa and Greenberg, 2007). Positive leaders increase positive emotions within the organization and enhance team spirit, morale and performance which lead to job satisfaction and a higher level of engagement towards flourishing.


Arakawa, D, and Greenberg, M. (2007), Optimistic managers and their influence on productivity and employee engagement in a technology organisation: Implications for coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2(1), pp.78–89.

Cameron, K.S. (2012), Positive leadership: Strategies for extraordinary performance. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler

Cameron, K.S., Dutton, J.E. and Quinn, R.E. (2003).Positive Organizational Scholarship – Foundations of a New Discipline, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA.

Cooperrider, D.L. and Srivastva, S. (1987). Appreciative inquiry in organizational life, Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 1, pp. 129-169

Seligman, M.E.P. (1998). Positive social science, APA Monitor, Vol. 29 No. 2, p. 5.

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