Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Empowerment”

June 3, 2016

By: , Rochelle Haug

Are you empowered in your position? What are empowering practices? According to Professors Gretchen Spreitzer and David Doneson (2008), “Empowering practices allow employees to decide on their own how they will recover from a service problem and surprise and delight customers by exceeding their expectations rather than waiting for approval from a supervisor.” Rochelle Haug attended the sessions taught at the Ross School of Business for staff on the topic: “Positive Leadership: Energizing the Positive Leader in You.” Find out what impact these sessions had on her.

Rochelle Haug
ACT Supervisor
Years at Ross: 4

1. Before you attended the sessions, what did you think you were going to gain from them?

I was thinking that I would gain a toolkit of strategies to implement and encourage me as a leader. I was hoping to gain a better understanding of positive business and how to implement this in our workplace and with our team. I was hoping to develop myself personally and discover best practices for honing my own leadership skills.

2. How would you explain/describe the experience of attending these sessions to a close friend or family member?

There was a great energy during these meetings. I found myself excited to attend and energized and empowered afterward. I wanted to be able to apply what I learned to my everyday life, both at work and at home. I did explain the experience to my husband and good friend, mostly by having them sit down and listen while I “retaught” the high points by going through the PowerPoints that were sent out to us after the session. Best way to solidify the learning—teaching it to someone else!

3. How do you see yourself applying what you learned in your everyday life?

Already I am implementing some of the ideas that came out of these sessions. I created an appreciation wall, which grew out of the Center for Positive Organizations “sugar cubes.” The gratitude research was of particular interest to me and resonated with me really on a spiritual level. I have made a commitment to fill out an appreciation note for each member of my team sometime before I meet with them for a one-on-one meeting. I believe this has a very positive effect not only for the person receiving the appreciation, but for me as I give it. It strengthens the team. I also like the fact that gratitude affects you physically in a positive way, like improving your mood, changing your thought patterns, and contributing to improved health. In addition, I decided to create a life statement as suggested in Bob Quinn’s session entitled “Imbuing the Organization with a Higher Purpose.” With that, I created a one-page goals’ sheet as well, which is on my desk for me to review each day.

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

A positive work environment is one that provides support from and for the team. There is open and honest communication and people are engaged in their work. If people are under-utilized, they get bored; if they are over-utilized, they feel stressed and burn out. A place right in the middle enables thriving at work.


I thought the training was great and I hope it is offered again so some of my team can attend. The research was intriguing – I love it when research confirms what just makes sense. The sessions had a practical use for everyone in many contexts; for example, the information learned was helpful at work, in your spiritual life, in relationships, and in connections with everyone across all facets.

If you would like to discover how to be a more effective and positive leader, we highly recommend that you read the book How to Be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact, edited by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer.

Positive Leadership: The Staff Series is a group of interviews capturing staff reflections after participating in the Positive Leadership Workshops.