4Positive PowerTransforming Possibilities through Appreciative Leadership

Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom

Much of leadership success depends on working with, not against, natural processes—whether social, as illustrated by Willburn and Campbell, or psychological, as addressed in this essay. In his seminal article on appreciative inquiry, “Positive Image, Positive Action: The Affirmative Basis of Organizing,” David L. Cooperrider (2001) built a scientific case for the power of positive images to inspire energy for change. Examples of this kind of “placebo effect” —that is, a healing immune response—include (1) the Pygmalion effect, whereby people live up to the positive images others have of them; (2) the power of imaging in athletic success; ...

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