Optimistic Managers and Their Influence on Productivity and Employee Engagement in a Technology Organization

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



The objective of this study is to investigate whether teams are more engaged and productive when led by an optimistic manager. Furthermore, we hypothesize that optimistic managers embody positive leadership—employing a strengths-based approach, maintaining a positive perspective, and frequently providing recognition and encouragement—which increases the engagement and productivity of their employees. In a cross-sectional study of 86 employees and 17 managers in an Information Technology (IT) organization, positive leadership correlated with employee optimism, engagement, and project performance. When we looked at a subset of this data prospectively, with 39 employees and 14 managers, manager optimism predicted project performance. Our data support the claim that positive leadership is correlated with employee engagement and performance, and further extends the importance of optimism in the workplace.

The practical application of this research is now published in Greenberg and Maymin's book, Profit from the Profit: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity & Transform Your Business (McGraw-Hill, 2013). The International Coaching Psychology Review published a peer-review edition of this study in their March 2007 issue (Vol. 2, No. 1).

In addition, the Gallup Management Journal (http://gmj.gallup.com) published two articles using the results of this study: "The Business Benefits of Positive Leadership: Finding the Connection Between Productivity & Positive Management Behavior" (May 10, 2007) and "It Pays to Be Optimistic: Exploring the Connections Between Optimism & Business Success" (August 9, 2007).


optimism, employee engagement, strengths, leadership


Business/Work, Other Topics


Empirical Study



Date Posted: 19 December 2014