Chak Fu Lam, Christopher Roussin



Purpose: The main goal of this article is to reconcile the concept of negativity with positive leadership approaches in a real-world setting.

Methodology: We interviewed Mr. Paul Fayad, ex-President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HHA Services, to describe his experience in implementing positive leadership and the role of negativity, and superficially negative behaviors, in creating an engaged workforce.

Findings: Effective positive leadership is not unerringly optimistic in all moments and in all things. Instead, it is a responsibility to create a positive work environment for everyone working in your company. This means that managers have to not only keep their people happy, but also eliminate the negative, which can be the wrong people, the wrong process, the wrong equipment, or other processes that should be eliminated. In the elimination of this negative, sometimes critical (or focused-negative) behaviors are required of the “positive leader”.

Implications: Negativity is a part of positive leadership, especially during the hiring process and critical conversation. The importance of addressing negativity is discussed.


Positive leadership; critical conversation; human resources

Full Text:



Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., Wrzesniewski, A. (2008), The Job Crafting Exercise, University of Michigan: Centre for Positive Organizational Scholarship, available at: (accessed 22 June 2015).

Cameron, K., Dutton, J., Quinn, R. (2003), Positive organizational scholarship, Berrett- Koehler, San Francisco.

Cameron, K. S., Plews, E. (2012), “Positive leadership in action: Applications of POS by Jim Mallozzi”, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 99-105. DOI:

Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D. (2005), Appreciative inquiry: A positive revolution in change, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco.

Deal, T., Kennedy, A. (1999), The new corporate cultures, Textere, London.

Fineman, S. (2006), “On being positive: Concerns and counterpoints”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 270–291. DOI:

Furedi, F. (2003), Therapy culture: Cultivating vulnerability in an uncertain age, Routledge, London.

Kluger, A. N., DeNisi, A. (1996), “The effects of feedback interventions on performance. A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory”, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 119 No. 2, pp. 254-284. DOI:

Learmonth, M., Humphreys, M. (2011), “Blind spots in Dutton, Roberts and Bednar’s ‘Pathways for positive identity construction at work’: ‘You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 424-427.

Quinn, R. E., Dutton, J. E., Spreitzer, G. M. (2003), Reflected best self-exercise, MI: Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Seligman, M. E. P., Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000), “Positive psychology: An introduction”, American Psychologist, Vol. 55 No. 1, pp. 5-14. DOI:

Tennen, H., Affleck, G. (2003), “While accentuating the positive, don't eliminate the negative or Mr. In-Between”, Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 163-169.

Walsh, B., Jamison, S., Walsh, C. (2010), The score takes care of itself: My philosophy of leadership, Penguin Group, New York.

Action funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education under the contract number 916/P-DUN/2019 by funds dedicated to dissemination of research findings. Preparing for publication papers in English and employing reviewers affiliated in research institutions abroad in 8 issues of the Journal of Positive Management in 2019-2020: Vol. 10, No. 1-4, Vol. 11, No. 1-4.

Partnerzy platformy czasopism