5 Ways to Raise Your Organization’s Attitude Capital

A CEO named Juha received feedback from one of his team members: “You saw the potential in me from the beginning. The fact that you believed in me had huge meaning for me. It really boosted my self-confidence and resilience.

One of Juha’s strongest qualities is that he always believes in his people. He believes that given responsibility, anyone can be a star. Juha knows how to support people and the growth of their positive self-image as a father figure, a coach and a manager.

Unfortunately many leaders and managers tend to do the opposite. I continuously run into managers who don’t believe in their teams. I often hear them say things like, “The people in our company are this and that… They don’t take responsibility or challenge themselves to go outside of their comfort zones… The people in our organization are always so negative…

And when I meet ‘these people’ I often realize they are nothing like persons described by their leaders. They are not lazy – they were just not mentored with the same kind of ‘Juha’ attitude.

Juha’s strength as a leader is his understanding of the meaning of attitude capital and how it supports a successful organization.

Financial capital not the only value driver

Organizations have different types of capital. Financial capital, knowledge capital, and social capital. The most important type of capital however, is psychological capital, also known as ‘attitude capital’. Organizations cannot flourish without it. A firm foundation of attitude capital ensures that financial, knowledge and social capital can be used to create better customer service and overall staff well being.

The term attitude capital, coined by Fred Luthans and backed by over 30 years of research, consists of four dimensions: hope, realistic optimism, resilience and self-efficacy.

Attitude capital can be defined as the attitude of individuals in any workplace and overall organizational willpower. This is exemplified by people taking responsibility and demonstrating initiative. Leading and developing attitude capital tends to enhance productivity, entrepreneurship and the attitude of an empowered organization.

It has been proven that poor leadership can diminish an organization’s attitude and affect potential utilization of people’s strengths. The best way to develop an organization is to lead employee attitude and motivate people to learn in new ways.

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Five ways a leader can develop Attitude Capital

1) Check your ego at the door

An organization’s attitude always partly mirrors that of its management.

Ask yourself:
What attitude am I reflecting?
How can I strengthen my own attitude?

2) Believe in your people

Leaders need to cultivate confidence in their workers and help them to cultivate their strengths. Jorma Ollila once said, “Every person we lead is a rough diamond. A leader’s job is to encourage every individual and help them to see their own skills and potential.

Ask yourself:
How can I help my people to find (and use) their strengths?
Which of my beliefs are undermining the well being, growth and success of others?

3) Let go

If you want people to learn to take responsibility, you need to give up control. Let them make decisions, decide on their own holidays, approve their own expenses or take an important customer out for lunch. Don’t be a micromanager.

Ask yourself:
How can my people exercise individual responsibility in the workplace?

4) Don’t be afraid of praise and gratitude

Some of us believe that compliments and recognition make people arrogant or perhaps even lazy. Of course this is a possibility but it’s highly unlikely. You are better off taking this small risk and believing in the potential they have instead of ignoring it.

However don’t be afraid to give negative feedback aloud (in a positive and respectful manner). Speak from the heart and give constructive feedback. Show an understanding of factors that might have contributed to missteps but at the same time challenge the person to see the weak links that can be developed.

Ask yourself:
When and how did you last show gratitude to a team member?

5) Cultivate a team learning environment

In the future, the only types of organizations thriving will be learning organizations. The future is now. Team learning is effective learning. Team learning is accelerated learning.

Ask yourself:
What kind of learning example and use of your own potential have you showed over the past year?

Do you want to learn more about psychological and attitude capital? Click on the link below to download one chapter of Makke’s book ’organisaation psykologinen pääoma’. (Finnish language only).


Makke Leppänen (MBA, MSc psychology,) is a visionary leader and a motivational psychologist. He helps organizations create an accelerated learning culture in order to build a competitive edge. Makke has been in charge of Nordic Business Forum’s post seminar each year. More about Makke: www.makkeleppanen.fi, @makke_makke.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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