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Appreciative Leadership

Key Idea

Whittled down to its essence, appreciative leaders affirm the positive and goodness of the human spirit. It’s more a worldview and a way of being in the world than a particular leadership skill or attribute.  The concept draws from the theory and practices of appreciative inquiry, a process of organizational change that emphasizes positive questions and collaborative inquiry as a source for enhanced performance and creating common purpose.

Book to Read

Appreciative Leadership 
by Diana Whitney, et al (2010)

Quick Take from the Book

According to Whitney and her colleagues, there are five core strategies to appreciative leadership:

  1. Inquiry (asking positively powerful questions).
  2. Illumination (bringing out the best in people and situations).
  3. Inclusion (engaging with people to co-create the future).
  4. Inspiration (awakening the creative spirit in everyone).
  5. Integrity (making choices for the good of the whole).

Quote of Note

"Appreciative Leadership assumes that each person has a positive core, an implicit source of goodness and positive potential awaiting discovery, recognition, and realization. Appreciative Leadership senses potential and turns it into positive power…Trusting that with few exceptions, each person has the capacity to make a meaningful contribution, appreciative leaders see it as their job to draw out and nurture potential and to ensure conditions for its success. In so doing, they turn human potential into positive power. " — p. 9

Related Styles: Positive LeadershipServant LeadershipTransformational Leadership

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