Energizing leaders via self-reflection: A within-person field experiment.

The leader role is demanding and depleting, explaining why many leaders struggle to remain engaged while doing their job. In this study, we present theory and an intervention focused on improving leader energy. Integrating cognitive energetics theory (Kruglanski et al., 2012) with leader identity theory and expressive writing research, we develop and test a positive leader self-reflection intervention, which asks leaders to reflect on aspects of their selves that make them good leaders. We expected that this intervention would improve leaders’ access to and application of their energy in ways that would make them more influential at work. We tested these theoretical expectations in an experimental experience sampling study where, as expected, we found that leaders experienced less depletion and through it heightened work engagement on intervention versus control days. Work engagement, in turn, improved perceived prosocial impact and clout, two markers of leaders’ influence at work. We conceptually replicated the depletion-reducing effect of the intervention in a second study and showed that its effectiveness was specific to those who held leadership roles within their organizations. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the intervention and of our findings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)