Amy Young

Book Launch Celebration: “Positive Communication for Leaders”


About this event

The Positive Communication Network is proud to present the Positive Communication Book Series, a one-hour event designed to celebrate great books that inspire better social worlds.

The July 28th event will celebrate Julien C. Mirivel and Alexander Lyon’s newest release, “Positive Communication for Leaders: Proven Strategies for Inspiring Unity and Effecting Change” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2023). Described by Arvind Singhal as “one of the most significant books of the decade in the communication discipline,” our event will offer the following:

1. A 25-minute leadership training based on the book led by Julien and Alex.

2. A 15-minute fireside chat with the authors (moderated by Amy Young, Michigan Ross School of Business).

3. A 10-minute Q & A with all participants (moderated by Maggie Pitts, University of Arizona).

4. A free communication plan to develop your own skills.

5. A special discount rate on the book for the launch.

6. 5 books giveaway.

7. A free 9-day email class.

8. Opportunities for free virtual speaking engagement for your classes! (Pending availability).

The PCN Positive Communication Book Series is designed to inspire scholars, educators, and practitioners to study, explore, and celebrate positive communication practices and messages across communication contexts.

Full Details

The science of flourishing with Amy Young

Positive Organizations Consortium Faculty Director Amy Young shares “What Flourishing Is and Why It Matters,” in this Psychology Today article.

Amy explains solutions and benefits to “increase happiness at work, but also reduce stress and emotional exhaustion,” and how to build workplaces that support mental well-being. Using the PERMA model she shares, you too can put the science of flourishing into action.

Amy Young is the Faculty Director of the Positive Organizations Consortium at the Center for Positive Organizations and a Lecturer of Business Communication at the University of Michigan.

Hope as the Secret Sauce: Positive Organizations Consortium Member Profile

Jared Christensen

Jared Christensen

Dr. Jared Christensen, Assistant Clinical Professor of Radiology at Michigan Medicine, recently accepted the role of Director of Operations in the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology knowing that he would have the opportunity to work on culture. The division incorporates the use of radiology during surgical procedures and requires physicians, nurses, and radiology technicians to work in unison under high pressure. As the Director of Operations, Jared has been highly invested in building relational coordination and a positive culture in the division.

Knowing that the pandemic has created increased stress to healthcare professionals, I asked Jared, “Do you ever think about building hope among your employees and if so how do you go about it?

“I think about building hope all the time. I see hope as a “secret sauce,” an essential ingredient in the recipe for an exceptional workplace. Without hope, work is dull and meaningless. Psychological safety is paramount to building hope. Dreams and aspirations are personal expressions of inner desires and values, and sharing those dreams and aspirations only happens in safe spaces, and it only happens in reciprocal relationships. 

I try to create opportunities for sharing whenever I can, and I find ways to engage people together to find common values and experiences. I pay attention to people’s lives – their families, their hobbies, things like that. People love to talk about their lives outside of work, and when we engage in these short conversations, it becomes easy to share with one another. Asking people about their dreams outside of work sets the foundation for asking them about their aspirations and dreams in the workplace. 

Of course, aspiring for something and planning to achieve it are two complementary halves to hope and optimism. I involve others in the planning of how to achieve shared goals and aspirations. I put complementary people together in these efforts, using the synergy between aligned individuals to create energetic relationships. Successes spring from those relationships. 

I also work diligently to reduce “hope suckers.” There’s a long list of things like inefficiencies, delays, and organizational inertia that can suck the soul out of people and squash hope. Mitigation of the hope suckers can be a large part of what I do as I try to maintain the sense of purpose, enjoyment, and fulfillment that I want to exist in my people.” 

Dr. Jared Christensen is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Radiology at Michigan Medicine.

The Positive Organizations Consortium is a vibrant, leader-to-leader learning and networking community designed to create highly effective workplaces where people thrive. Established in 2014 at the Center for Positive Organizations, our members empower people and teams to reach their full potential through the science of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS).

Leaders can help influence employees’ positive beliefs

Beliefs held by workers can be either limiting or liberating — and an organization can benefit when leaders understand the difference, according to a new essay by Ross School of Business Lecturer Amy Young.

In an article published by The Pacific Institute, Young explains how leaders can help employees adopt more liberating beliefs.

“Limiting beliefs have a subtle yet powerful impact on all aspects of work life,” Young writes. These beliefs may cause workers to be overly cautious, or to get defensive about their work. These limiting beliefs inadvertently hold back employees from realizing their full potential.

“Common among liberating beliefs, on the other hand, is their ability to expand our mental, emotional, and relational capabilities. When we enter an alert yet relaxed mental state, our cognitive capacity expands, as we are more apt to see alternative possibilities rather than maintaining a narrow defense of our own views,” Young continues.

Amy Young is a lecturer in business communication at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, as well as the consortium faculty director and member of the core faculty at the Center for Positive Organizations.

This article was originally published by Michigan Ross

Positive Communication Routines: Simply Say Hello

Thrive in Trying Times Teach-Out Videos

Positive Communication Routines: Simply Say Hello

Amy Young, a Lecturer of Business Communication, shares the powerful impact we can have on others by simply offering a greeting. Saying hello to others offers them access to a sense of belonging, especially when done with intentional warmth and welcome. Saying hello creates a network effort where everyone around us benefits from more of those high quality connections that help us thrive.

This video is part of a series produced for the Thrive in Trying Times Teach-Out. Learn more about the teach-out and watch other videos here.

Applying positive leadership principles during COVID-19 crisis

The principles of positive leadership become even more important during times of crisis — and the current pandemic illustrates how these ideas can be applied, according to a new journal article.

Writing in Academic Radiology, Michigan Ross faculty member Amy Young and her coauthors outline the core principles of positive leadership and offer concrete examples of how they have been implemented at the U-M Department of Radiology. “Be Transparent,” “Be Accountable,” and “Be Flexible” are among the points covered.

“Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are shaping the culture of our departments for years to come in how we show up to lead our departments during this time. Not only is the virus contagious, but so are our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors,” the authors write.

The article concludes, “We are called to bring the very best version of ourselves to work; the one that we aspire to be and the one that we can be if we were to rise to the challenge. Showing up as positive leaders today will help to make us a stronger and more unified department in the days and years to come.”

Amy Young is a lecturer in business communication at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, as well as the consortium faculty director and member of the core faculty at the Center for Positive Organizations. Coauthor David Fessell is a CPO faculty associate.

This article was originally published as a Ross Thought In Action article.

How to be a positive radiology leader in times of crisis

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed examples of extraordinary leadership and less than stellar leadership in our institutions, communities, nation, and around the world. In some instances, we have been inspired to bring forth our very best selves and give far more than we ever thought capable of. In other instances, we have felt demoralized, depleted and overwhelmed. Sadly, many of the same mistakes made by leadership during the current crisis also occurred during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Precious time was lost while leaders denied the severity of the situation, social distancing measures were delayed and inadequate, and needed resources were lacking for those who became ill. The importance of effective leadership cannot be stressed enough, especially during times of crisis. In fact, the quality of leadership during pandemics such as these is truly a matter of life and death.

The Army describes leadership as “all about influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation—while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.” In addition, the Army’s simple yet powerful leadership model is “Be, Know, Do.”

Positive organizational psychology is the discipline that inspires and enables leaders to build high-performing organizations that bring out the very best in their people. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are shaping the culture of our departments for years to come in how we show up to lead our departments during this time. Not only is the virus contagious, but so are our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

During these times we come face to face with the challenge of responding quickly without a well-worn game plan, enough information or the time we would normally take to build consensus. Right now, our faculty and staff need our guidance now more than ever as we are called to come together in extraordinary ways to accomplish tasks previously considered impossible with little time and lack of complete information. Although positive leadership is important all of the time, it is particularly important in times of crisis. How we decide to show up will determine how they decide to show up.

At the University of Michigan Department of Radiology, we have been working with the University of Michigan Ross Business School Center for Positive Organizations to learn best practices and measure the effect of positive leadership in our workplace. From our learnings, we have generated a list of positive leadership qualities and given concrete examples of how they have been used in our Department during this COVID crisis.

Top 10: The most popular Ross Thought in Action posts from the academic year

Guidance from Michigan Ross faculty on dealing with coronavirus dominates most-read content.

A review of the most popular Ross Thought in Action posts of the just-concluded academic year reveals that half of the top 10 were about the COVID-19 pandemic. The other most popular topics included women in leadership roles, the impact of online grocery shopping, and the importance of learning to ask for help.

RTIA is a platform to showcase the ideas and research of Michigan Ross faculty for the business community.

Here are the year’s top 10 RTIA articles, as measured by page views, starting with the most popular:

  1. If Virus Concerns Have You Working From Home, Here’s Some Advice From the Pros, featuring Professor Sue Ashford
  2. Q-and-A: How Smart Managers Can Effectively Lead Newly Remote Teams During COVID-19 Pandemic, featuring Professor Lindy Greer
  3. What Should You Say? Leadership Communication During the Coronavirus Pandemic, featuring Lecturer Amy Young
  4. How HR Professionals Can Respond to Our Current Virus Crisis, featuring Professor Dave Ulrich
  5. Mindfulness at Work Increases Generosity, featuring Professor Gretchen Spreitzer
  6. Michigan Ross Professor Helps Make Sense of Coronavirus Crisis, featuring Professor Paolo Pasquariello
  7. How One Person Can Change an Entire Company, featuring Professor Emeritus Robert Quinn
  8. Online Grocery Shopping Can Reduce Food Waste and Help the Environment, featuring Professor Ekaterina Astashkina
  9. Varied Legal and Cultural Issues Affect the Number of Women in Leadership Roles Around the World, featuring Professor Cindy Schipani
  10. The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Succeed Today: Ask a Simple Question, featuring Professor Wayne Baker

This original article was published as a Ross Thought in Action article.


What should you say? Leadership communication during the coronavirus pandemic

7 tips to get your messaging right AND create a positive culture in the process

Amy Young

Amy Young

In the past week, I’ve been approached by many leaders asking me for best practices on communicating to employees during times of crisis. Leaders know stakes are high, but are often at a loss as how to craft these messages. Fortunately there are strategies that can help with navigating this communication challenge that you can put to work right away.

Here is the good news: if you get it right, you can make significant strides in building a positive culture in your workplace. Crises – such as the coronavirus pandemic – disrupt organizational norms and expectations that are typically crystalized under normal conditions. Espousing and modeling the desired values during this time of crisis will enable your employees to create stronger bonds, clarify your shared principles, and rally behind a collective purpose.

  1. If you are writing to convey important information, concisely state the “what” and the “why” towards the beginning of the message in a highly visible way. Many leaders are having to send messages to employees about rapidly unfolding circumstances about how work will be carried out during the crisis. Often these messages have too much information and as a result the most important points are easy to miss. You want to concisely state the key point at the beginning of the message when attention is high. If there are important details, include them in an attachment or a link. Also, tell the reader why you are making the change as this will help them understand its importance and increase the likelihood of their willingness to comply.
  2. Use the opportunity to provide compassionate reassurance as this is what employees need the most from you now. Put yourself in their shoes to think about what they are most worried about. Most often, the primary concern is job security, but with the coronavirus pandemic, employees are probably just as worried (if not more) about the health and safety of themselves and others. Assure them you are thinking about their wellbeing and tell them what you are able to do to address their health and employment security.
  3. Share with them your appreciation of their contributions. If they have been going the extra mile to help customers and co-workers, let them know that you notice and appreciate what they have done. Don’t assume that your employees can read you mind (because they can’t). Recognition such as this says to your employees “you matter.”
  4. Let them know how their work contributes to your shared values and higher purpose. Call out how their work is making a difference for the larger good, whether it means bringing value to the team, your organization, or the broader community. Connecting employees’ day-to-day tasks to these loftier aspirations provides a beacon for employees. Helping them remain focused on the larger purpose will help maintain their spirits and help them avoid ruminating on their anxieties.
  5. Call out the value of demonstrating compassion and concern for each other. Leaders need to be explicit that expressing care for each other is valued in the organization, otherwise employees can easily assume such expressions are frowned upon. Many workplaces have unspoken assumptions that professionalism means being indifferent, stoic, and unemotive. When you demonstrate compassion and call it out as a welcomed behavior, you are giving your employees permission to be this way with each other.
  6. Ask for their help. Begin with the assumption that employees want to contribute (because most often they do). Inviting them to contribute to the solution provides a much-needed sense of agency and control during times of crisis. Often leaders are reluctant to ask for help because they think they are expected to have all of the answers. As long as you are actively working on solutions, conveying realistic optimism, and are genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, employees will be forgiving if you don’t have all the answers.
  7. Communicate often even when there are no events or decisions to update them on. Letting employees know that you are aware of the issues at hand and are currently working on them may actually be news to them. When there is no information, we tend to create our own narrative to fill in the blanks. During times of crisis, it is easy for employees to create a narrative that leaders are unaware of the problems and everyone is headed for disaster. Let them know you are working on it will relieve them of their anxieties.

By definition, times of crisis bring stress and anxiety into the workplace. But they also can offer the opportunity to bring the very best of the human experience, such as compassion, resilience, fortitude, and solidarity into the workplace. Taking the time to share your humanity in a well-crafted message will stay with your organization well after the crisis has passed.

Amy Young, PhD
Faculty, Business Communications
Faculty Director, Center for Positive Organizations Consortium
Ross School of Business

Amy Young

Please note: This event is for invited researchers only.

Heliocrafting: Using Communication to Socially Construct the Possible

Talk description:
The field of business communication has primarily focused on the use of communication to inform, persuade, and build collegial relationships within the workplace. Current frameworks enable us to understand workplace communication that is common, but fail to describe communication that brings out the very best in self and others. Amy will share an alternative model that explains how communicative behaviors can be used to create a state of readiness for positive growth. Using a social constructionist framework, this model unpacks the psychology of social interactions and allows us to tap into human potential that currently resides dormant. Key to the process is the recognition that the self is a social creation and thus change occurs most readily with positive social interaction. Amy explores how the model can be used to explain existing positive outliers and to prescriptively craft future growth.

Amy Young is on the Business Communications faculty at the Ross School of Business and received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Amy teaches positive business communications at Ross and provides students with tangible communicative strategies to build and expand human capabilities and wellbeing within the organizational context. She is a core faculty member of the Center for Positive Organizations and Faculty Director of its Consortium.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubator here and direct questions about individual sessions to Amy Young at

Pamela Robinson

Please note: This event is for invited researchers only.

The Role of Positive Deviance in Sustainable Agribusiness Development

Talk description:
The agribusiness sector is undergoing transformational challenges requiring agribusiness professionals and organizations to rethink their approach to sustainability. Problem-focused/deficit gap approaches are insufficient to tackle these transformational challenges. Alternative approaches to local agribusiness may provide valuable insights overlooked given their perceived value in the commercial agriculture value chain. Sustainability with positive organizational scholarship (POS) (abundance gap approach) offers an alternative perspective to examine the best of what is along the agribusiness value chain.

At the presentation, Pamela will share her dissertation work involving interviews with agribusiness owners who have been able to produce positive impacts. Her initial work suggests that there are common characteristics among positive deviance in the domains of sustainability and positive organizational scholarship (e.g., positive deviance).


Pamela Robinson, Doctoral Student of Management
Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University

Pamela Robinson holds the distinction of being a Doctor of Management (DM) Management Design and Innovation Fellow, Fowler Center Sustainability Fellow and Non-Profit Management Fellow from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Pamela’s qualitative research aims to shed light on what gives life to sustainable agribusiness. She is interested in lifting the strengths across the agribusiness value chain through the lived experiences of actors closest to the ground activities, particularly in developing countries.

Pamela’s motivation for her research stems from the design thinking of the Peter B. Lewis building and her executive experience integrating an economic and social impact business model into her company. Founded in 1999, Financial Voyages LLC delivers insightful, engaging learning experiences to help people in the international community significantly transform businesses, lives, and communities for the better.

View Pamela’s research journey at

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubator here and direct questions about individual sessions to Amy Young at

+LABBER Sarah Wood coordinated mental health event, Amy Young spoke

The Michigan Daily reported on Head Talk, a Ted Talk-style panel focused on mindfulness and wellbeing, that took place during the University of Michigan’s mental health week. The event was coordinated by Sarah Wood, a +LAB fellow and Michigan Ross BBA, and included a speech by Amy Young, a CPO faculty associate whose research focuses on the synergies between positive organizational practices and digital communication technology.