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HY IT. HAT IS. In the present study, we explicitly choose to consider proactivity as a trait, because we want to focus on the one-directional relationship from proactive personality as an antecedent toward engagement as an outcome. Thus, we align to the mere trait approach, following Dikkers et al. Employees, who have a proactive personality, have a relatively stable tendency to intentionally change themselves and their organization in a meaningful way. They are masters of their destiny Seibert et al.
Individuals with a proactive personality are inclined to take personal initiative to have an impact on the world around them Bakker et al. This personal inclination is expected to be beneficial to being engaged at the job. The question arises as to how organizations could best capitalize on, and further facilitate, the relationship between proactive personality and engagement.
Over the last decades research into leadership styles has bloomed in this respect. The literature review of Carasco-Saul et al. A general conclusion from previous studies into the relation between transformational leadership and engagement seems to be that transformational leadership as opposed to transactional leadership enhances engagement, also resulting in better job performance, organizational knowledge creation Carasco-Saul et al.
For long, transformational leadership has been portrayed as a general panacea, although recently some critical studies have appeared. Van Knippenberg and Sitkin argued that it is time to forego the transformational leadership construct as a whole, in search for better defined and empirically distinct aspects of leadership.
Furthermore, there are calls for studies that gain insights in the conditions under which transformational leadership may not work e.
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For example, Jiang et al. In our study, we acknowledge the critical views on transformational leadership, but we adopt a different angle and analyze the conditions under which transformational leadership works or may not work in stimulating engagement.
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We argue that the mindset of the employee may determine whether transformational leadership moderates the proactivity-engagement relationship. Mindset of employees will in this study be captured by the concept of growth mindset of Dweck Growth mindset, as opposed to fixed mindset is the implicit belief of individuals in the malleability of basic personal traits and characteristics, such as intelligence and ability Dweck, Mindset theory is often applied in the context of learning and education see e.
Asbury et al. It is plausible that growth mindset is also relevant for work engagement.
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Employees with a growth mindset are characterized by an eagerness to continuously develop themselves. We argue that these employees are likely to be highly engaged in their work, because it provides opportunities for personal growth. Moreover, we pose that employees with a growth mindset are open to transformational leadership, as transformational leadership is geared toward personal development of employees too. For employees with a growth mindset, transformational leadership will positively moderate the proactive personality-engagement relationship.
In contrast, for employees with a fixed mindset, transformational leadership will not have an impact on the proactive personality-engagement relationship. Our study contributes to the literature in several ways. First, we contribute to the limited literature that investigated the proactive personality-engagement relationship. Second, we contribute to the leadership literature by delineating the conditions that enhance the uptake of transformational leadership by employees. And third, we are the first to examine a possible three-way interaction that may deepen the insights for how these different variables add and interact in their contribution to engagement.
The concept of work engagement has received extensive attention in academic literature, in articles and handbooks alike see e. Bakker and Leiter, This model implies an important role for the personal resources that workers can use to optimize their possibilities to cope with the demands of the job. Personal resources are psychological aspects of the self that help the individual to successfully cope with, for example, job demands and attaining work goals see e. Xanthopoulou et al. Personal resources include, amongst others, self-efficacy, resilience and hope e.
Van den Heuvel et al. Unlike stable psychological characteristics, personal resources can vary over time, depending on other factors. In this respect, personal resources are mere psychological states see e. Hence, personal resources are important antecedents of work engagement, but may also have a stress buffering or an engagement boosting role. Many studies indeed confirm the positive effects of personal resources on work engagement see e.
Although Dikkers et al. These individuals create favorable conditions for themselves in their work Crant, ; Bakker et al. Proactive personality is a rather stable personality characteristic that refers to showing initiative, persevering to bring about meaningful change and identifying opportunities and acting upon them Seibert et al. Grant and Ashford , p. Employees with a proactive personality are therefore likely to actively manage job demands and resources and nurture their personal and work goals.
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Hence, the following is hypothesized: H1. In addition to personal resources and characteristics, different types of job resources and characteristics are known to be important to work engagement, such as autonomy see e. Halbesleben, and leadership Xu and Cooper-Thomas, Although leadership is considered important, leadership style has received far less attention in work engagement research Tims et al.
Alban-Metcalfe and Alimo-Metcalfe, These studies point out that it is valuable to distinguish between relevant competencies what do leaders do and engaging behaviors how do leaders act Alban-Metcalfe and Alimo-Metcalfe, ; Alimo-Metcalfe et al. The latter denotes the leadership style, which can be assessed with regard to the degree in which it is engaging. The focus of the present study is on how leaders act, i. Transformational leadership is most often differentiated from transactional leadership Bass and Avolio, Whereas transactional leaders influence employees by setting goals, focusing and clarifying desired outcomes, transformational leaders aim to support and motivate employees.
More specifically, transformational leadership aims to foster the development of employee capabilities and to achieve higher levels of employee commitment to organizational goals Bass, ; Dvir et al. Transformational leaders provide intellectual stimulation and inspirational motivation. They aim to tease out the best from employees Den Hartog et al. Prior studies have shown that these transformational leadership behaviors have clear links with engagement constructs both across individuals e. Vogelgesang et al. Tims et al. Support from the leader and the creation of an environment focused on learning from mistakes are aspects of psychological safety which encourages engagement Kahn, ; Breevaart et al.
Intellectual stimulation has been shown to be positively related to engagement Macey and Schneider, and organizational commitment Erkutlu, ; Lee, As the link between transformational leadership and work engagement can benefit from further study with respect to different samples and model designs Zhu et al. Mindset research has its origin in studies on learning strategies of individuals in schools and colleges Dweck, ; Yeager and Dweck, ; Hong et al.
The underlying idea is that individuals who endorse a relatively fixed mindset believe that personal traits and characteristics, such as intelligence and ability, are unchangeable and cannot be controlled or developed. Individuals with a growth mindset believe in the malleability of personal traits and characteristics Murphy and Dweck, Education-oriented studies have shown that having a growth mindset is positively related to learning performance Dweck, ; Asbury et al. Prior research has shown that mindset has an impact on resilience Yeager and Dweck, Individuals, who believe that they are not defined by their past behavior and can change and develop, are better able to respond to challenging situations.
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They perceive difficult situations and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. When individuals believe that they can alter basic traits by making an effort, they are motivated to give their best and ameliorate those traits Yeager and Dweck, Mindsets are found to play a role in performance appraisals Heslin et al.
We follow their reasoning by posing that it is likely that growth mindset is related to work engagement. Employees, who are eager to improve themselves, have positive beliefs of the value of hard work, and see setbacks as opportunities for learning, and are dedicated to their work. They are not discouraged when they make mistakes, as they see how these lead to personal improvement.