Despite the fact that a “devil’s advocate” may serve a useful purpose within the workplace, the uninvited persistent skepticism and argumentative nature may also be harmful to the organizational environment. The fallout resulting from the devil’s advocate work may otherwise be perceived as the parasite that augments poor communication, reduces productivity, and may even generate the tone for undesirable work ethics. As the leader and caretaker, one must be prepared to protect the organization from such counterproductive behaviors threatening an otherwise healthy environment by ensuring that the helpful and self-reliant don’t become hopeless and helpless.
While many leaders seldom consider implementing a management strategy benefiting from the positive construct of hope, research indicates that a competitive advantage may be “gained through investing, leveraging, developing, and managing psychological capital (PsyCap)”(Luthans, et al, 2007, p. 7). According to the PsyCap model, there are eight contributors toward the development of hope. Fittingly, the recommended antidote for fostering hope as a positive construct may be procurable through goal setting, stretch goals, stepping, involvement, reward system, resources, strategic alignment, and training. As a leader, influencing and facilitating each of the eight approaches may serve to bring harmony into an environment that may have been lacking a sound course.
In an attempt to ensure that the follower does not get derailed, the leader may consider turning the eventual barriers into smaller more manageable hurdles or utilizing team management enrichment systems that benchmark the small milestones along the way, so that the follower does not become overwhelmed by a particular task.
Leaders with the capacity to conceptualize and express goals persuasively gain a capacity to reap certain benefits, however may not always produce long-term solutions. Long-term solutions are much more likely to be negotiated when the leader has employed a follower centric model leveraging competency level with task. By adapting the magnitude of the task according to followers’ level of confidence, the fear originally induced by the challenge will eventually dissipate and re-emerge as hope.
Luthans, F., Youssef, C. M., and Avolio, B. J. (2007). Psychological capital: Developing the human competitive edge. NY: Oxford University Press.
Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, (13)4, 249-275.