Leading in Trying Times

Writing about a compelling global vision of a peaceful and flourishing society, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called on the idea of a “beloved community” as a foundation from which committed people could learn together about themselves, one another, and the world we inhabit. This beloved community is not a utopia or an unachievable idea, but rather a collective space of practice where people engage in dialogue, reflect, learn, and grow. Rarely has the committed pursuit of such a vision seemed as important and as challenging as it does today.

At the Center for Positive Organizations (CPO), we are also committed to the ideas and creation of such a community. We hold a vision of flourishing human organizations where people can undertake work with dignity, trust, and respect and where we can strive together for the highest aspirations of human life. We believe that positive organizations lay a strong foundation for a positive society.

Core ideas in the study of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) since its first publications 20 years ago include how to create workplaces that are spaces of mutual understanding, inclusiveness, forgiveness, compassion, courage, and other virtues. POS scholars illuminate ideas such as reciprocity, resourcefulness, energy, thriving, and many more. Drawing from many fields, the interdisciplinary Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship sheds light on over 45 topics including leading in times of crisis, cultivating gratitude, and creating resilience.

This site is a renewed and updated version of a set of essays from POS scholars about the topic of Leading in Trying Times that were first published after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We have invited all members of the CPO Community of Scholars to contribute short reflections that help us apply and understand these key ideas anew. We have also invited members of our broader CPO community to offer reflections from their work as leaders, from their view as learners, and from the wisdom of their practice. All ideas reflect the authors own points of view.

We offer these ideas and resources to help us all to enact the kind of organizations and communities we want to live and work in daily. If you have a reflection or resource that you would like to offer, please share it with us.

Gretchen Spreitzer (faculty director), Chris White (managing director), and Monica Worline (faculty affiliate)




Be a peaceful bridgeperson between/among persons, groups, communities. How? By viewing and treating conflicts and controversies positively By convincing others cooperatively, rather than coercively By implementing a culture of compassion Dignify your daily dialogue at home, at work, and at school. How? By addressing persons/groups with respectful, dignifying language By using Positivizers (nouns, verbs, adjectives which can […]

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Reflections of a positive leader in trying times

“Each of us needs to do our part. If we show compassion. If we have empathy. If we understand where others are coming from, we are going to make this world a better place. We are going to make this country a better place.” Editor’s note: this video offers a leader’s reflections on the immediate […]

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