Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Pygmalion Effect”

August 5, 2016

By: , Heidi Schultz

According to Professor Kim Cameron, one of the faculty who taught the “Positive Leadership” series for staff at the Ross School of Business, the heliotropic effect is evident in both individuals and organizations (“Making The Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance”).  In fact “[a]ll living things are inclined toward that which gives light…Psychologically, the heliotropic effect is manifested as the Pygmalion effect. That is, our systems respond not only to our own positive expectations, but also to the expectations of others.”

Continue reading to find out how Heidi Schultz uses this research in her workplace.

Heidi Schultz
Fitness/Massage Practitioner
Number of Years at Ross: 5

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

I wanted to learn more about leadership and how organizations function. I also wanted to know what “positive” meant. What are the outcomes and attitudes associated with positive leadership?

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

I would say that these sessions are the best investment a person could spend on guiding self-reflection to improve personal performance; then taking that knowledge and applying it to other aspects in your life. I would tell family and friends that attending these sessions “is a must”!

3. What did you take away and how do you see yourself applying what you learned into your everyday life?

My life works noticeably better when I apply what I learned. The gratitude exercises reached me at a very deep level. For example, before I get up in the morning, I think about five things I am grateful for. I write gratitude cards at work. I embraced the research Professor Kim Cameron shared on the Pygmalion effect. This helps me encourage my clients in a more positive way by focusing on expecting great results.

Professor Quinn’s life statement regarding complacency greatly impacted me as it has given me a clear idea of not falling into the pits of normalcy and letting my life just pass me by. That was a life changer!

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

A positive work environment is one where you are uplifted and able to uplift others. Management allows autonomy and opportunities for making high-quality connections.


The decorations and ice breakers were interactive and light. The atmosphere they set made it possible for us to be open to new knowledge.

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.