Detalle Publicación


Positive language and virtuous leadership: walking the talk

Título de la revista: MANAGEMENT RESEARCH
ISSN: 1536-5433
Volumen: 18
Número: 3
Páginas: 263 - 284
Fecha de publicación: 2020
Purpose The purpose of this study is to discuss the advantages and challenges of using virtuous language in business. Design/methodology/approach This paper is a theoretical exploration based on a literature review and philosophical analysis that uses a quantitative study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as its starting point. Findings This study argues that neo-Aristotelian leadership and positive leadership explain why companies whose financial filings use value-laden language that stresses the higher purpose of the organisation to outperform companies whose reports use the language of profit maximisation. While neo-Aristotelian leadership is based on Aristotle's Rhetoric, positive leadership is primarily influenced by research results from Positive Psychology and Positive Organizational Scholarship. The two approaches to leadership highlight something that conventional business research largely ignores, namely, the role of values as drivers of human behavior and the importance of character in leadership. Both research streams indicate that it is possible for organisations to do well and do good because they are seen as groups of value-driven individuals. Thus, using virtuous/positive communication is a possible means to do well financially and to (re-)humanize the business world of tomorrow. Research limitations/implications The BHI study investigates the outcomes of written language only; thus, it does not consider oral communication. Moreover, there is no "perfect level" of virtuous language in corporate environments. We should not expect the same precision in ethics as in mathematics. Practical implications By way of explaining how to best use virtuous language in a business context, this study helps business practitioners to do good and well. Social implications This study offers a pathway to (re-)humanize tomorrow's world of business, which is once again subjugating humanity to imagined technological imperatives. Originality/value By deliberating the benefits and possible downsides of using virtuous language in a business environment, this paper advances a topic that has recently gained considerable attention but is still in need for more research.