The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

077: Why Positive Organizations Matter and How They Thrive with Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer

spreitzer headshot 2016

Creating positive organizations is key for workers, teams, and organizations to perform at their highest levels. Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer, Faculty Director for the Center for Positive Organizations, gives concrete ways, drawn from her research, to promote a thriving organization. Dr. Spreitzer’s work has created tools to help people develop more of their full potential or their organization’s full potential.

Tune in to hear Dr. Spreitzer and Jen delve into the reasons for burnout, what it means to be a thriving organization, and how to ensure more vitality and learning in your work. They discuss ways to enable more thriving for ourselves and our organizations-both on the individual and leadership side, barriers to a thriving environment, and how to deal with jerks at work.

Biggest Takeaways You Don’t Want to Miss:
  • Creating a thriving environment with tangible ideas to make the change
  • Individual and Leadership ideas to thrive
  • Full engagement strategies to ensure more vitality and learning in work
  • Coping with negative energizers.
  • If we can find ways to give feedback in a way that shows people possibility, see it as an opportunity, it actually opens them up in a whole different way.
  • What causes burnout
Check out these highlights:
  • The focus of the Center for Positive Organization [4:15]
  • How can organizations enable thriving? [6:09]
  • What does it mean to be thriving? [8:00]
  • Examples of what to do to enable more or your own thriving [12:28]
  • Leadership side-what they can do to thrive [20:11]
  • Trend moving away from formal evaluations [27:43]
  • Barriers to thriving [31:10]
  • Dealing with jerks at work [36:00]
Links mentioned in this episode:
Full Bio:

Gretchen Spreitzer is the Keith E. and Valerie J. Alessi Professor of Business Administration at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (RSB).  She joined the Michigan faculty in 2001 after spending nine years on the faculty at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  She was also a Visiting Professor at the Australian School of Business in Sydney in 2008.

Her research focuses on employee empowerment and leadership development, particularly within a context of organizational change and decline.  Her most recent research is examining how organizations can enable thriving, especially in contexts dealing with the new world of work such as coworking spaces.  This is part of a new movement in the field of organizational behavior, known as Positive Organizational Scholarship (

Based on extensive field research, she has authored many articles on contemporary issues in organizational behavior in leading journals such at the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management ReviewAdministrative Science Quarterly, and the Journal of Applied Psychology.

She is the co-author of seven books:

  • How to Be a Positive Leader(2014) with Jane Dutton
  • The Best Teacher in You(2014) with Bob Quinn, Kate Heynoski and Michael Thomas.
  • The Oxford Handbooks of Positive Organizational Scholarship(2012) with Kim Cameron.
  • The Leader’s Change Handbook:  An Essential  Guide to Setting Direction and Taking Action(1999) with Jay Conger and Edward Lawler,
  • The Future of Leadership:  Speaking to the Next Generation(2001) with Warren Bennis and Thomas Cummings,
  • A Company of Leaders:  Five Disciplines for Unleashing the Power in Your Workforce(2001) with Robert Quinn,
  • Leadershipwith Kimberly Perttula.

Gretchen is the faculty director of the Center for Positive Organizations and previously directed the Ross Leadership Initiative.  She teaches electives on Leading Organizational Change for MBAs and BBAs, and the Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) Program.  She also has been a core faculty member in the Leading the Positive Organization, Management of Managers, and Emerging Leaders Executive Education Programs atMichigan as well as many custom programs.

She serves on the editorial boards of Academy of Management JournalOrganization ScienceJournal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Organizational Dynamics.  She has been elected to leadership positions in several professional organizations including the Academy of Management (where she was on their Board of Governors and was division chair of the Organization Development and Change Division) and the Western Academy of Management (where she served as President).  Gretchen has been elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Mangement and was awarded the Western Academy of Management’s Ascendant Scholar award for early career contributions, the JMI Distinguished Scholar Award, and the Martin Trailblazer award in conjunction with the Positive Organizational Scholarship Faculty at Michigan.

Prior to her doctoral education, Gretchen worked with the management consulting group at Price Waterhouse’s Government Services Office and with Partners for Livable Places, a not-for-profit urban planning firm in Washington, D.C.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Systems Analysis from Miami University (in Ohio) and completed her doctoral work at the Michigan Business School.  She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband, who is a public policy economist and two teenage daughters.