Psychological capital - what is it?
As a leader, it is your responsibility to create an as good working climate as possible to make your coworkers feel and perform at their best. If your coworkers feel and perform well, it will of course lead to your team also delivering an even better result.
There is plenty of research (link in Swedish) about psychological capital, i.e. the level of the following four factors in your staff: hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism. When these four factors, the psychological capital, are reinforced, it evidently leads to measurable improved performance.
The four factors make up the acronym HERO, and are therefore sometimes called ‘the hero within’. This is a very good symbol for what psychological capital stands for.
The different parts of psychological capital
Hope – positive targets and how you get there
If we know where we are heading and have a rough idea about how to get there, and are determined to do what it takes to reach the target, it increases our feeling of hope.
If you increase the feeling of hope in a coworker (hopeful in actually being able to reach the target), the coworker will make a stronger effort to really succeed. Therefore, it is very important for a leader to ensure that the team has engaging targets and clear plans for how the they will reach there.
Efficacy – to believe in your own ability
The second factor in psychological capital is about the belief in yourself and being able to handle different challenges turning up on the way to the set targets. It is about experiencing that we have the right skills and that we can use our strengths. It is about getting the freedom to manage our tasks without having someone micro managing or being too controlling.
Resilience – to come back after setbacks
The third component in psychological capital is resilience: how we handle crises and difficulties, and how quickly we can return and perhaps even learn something from the setback.
Optimism – a positive view on life in general
If you as a leader are positive and see possibilities, it will spread to your staff to search for positive signals. We will see setbacks as small dips that we quickly get passed. You have to watch out for not being seen as naive in your positivity: see reality for what it is and look for the positive things in your environment, and search for solutions instead of problems. This viewpoint is a culture that can be built into an organization, and such a positive culture will reinforce that organization’s performance.
There is a strong base of research around psychological capital and the model is based on factors that we as human beings can affect. The people and the organizations that are best at promoting psychological capital, i.e. more hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism, will also create stronger conditions to feel and perform better.
Do you want to learn more about psychological capital? Then you should join our webinar with Stefan Söderfjäll – The hero within (in Swedish). Sign up here.