Portrait and Best-self Stories

We wish to acknowledge our collaborators, Brianna Barker Caza, Ph. D. , and Emily Heaphy, Ph. D. , for their contributions to our ongoing research on the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™). This research served as the inspiration and conceptual anchor for this exercise. We thank Jennifer Suesse for her collaboration on the Bringing My Reflected Best Self to Life action steps, which inspired Phase 2 in this edition of the exercise. We thank the Stephen M. Ross School of Business for its continued support of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship.
We appreciate the questions and comments we have received from those who have completed and/or facilitated the RBSE™. Thank you for sharing how you have brought your best self to life! COPYRIGHT INFORMATION This copy is intended for single use only. Please do not copy or distribute. The Reflected Best Self Exercise™ is available for sale as a PDF download at the website of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, www. centerforpos. org. REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
EXECUTIVE BRIEF Born from empirical research from University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™) uses stories collected from people in all contexts of your life to help you understand and articulate who you are and how you contribute when you are at your best. With this new insight, you will feel immediately strengthened and connected to others, experience clarity about who you are at your best, and refine personal development goals to be your best self more often.

The RBSE™ guides you step-by-step through the process of identifying potential respondents, making the request for feedback, creating your a priori best-self portrait, analyzing your reflected best-self stories, creating a new, reflected best-self portrait, and translating that portrait into proactive steps for living at your best. © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ OVERVIEW All of us can recall our own extraordinary moments, those moments when we felt that our best self was brought to light, affirmed by others, and put into practice in the world.
These memories are seared into our minds as moments or situations in which we have felt alive, true to our deepest selves, and pursuing our full potential as human beings. Over time, we collect these experiences into a “portrait” of who we are and what we do when we are at our personal best. This “best-self portrait” is a resource we call on to build confidence, to help us make decisions, to be courageous, to prepare and see possibilities for the future, to face challenges, and so much more.
We can strengthen our own best-self portraits with insights reflected back to us from significant others in our lives. Our friends, colleagues, and family members have different perspectives, and can offer unique and valuable insights into the ways we add value and make positive contributions. Research shows that the difference between a weakness-based self portrait and a strong best-self portrait is closely correlated to the difference between normal and extraordinary leadership.
A popular assumption of personal development exercises and programs is that a person’s area of weakness is that person’s greatest area of opportunity (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Proponents of a strengths-based orientation argue that the deficit model may diminish people’s chances of making their greatest contributions, which is performing at their best, or achieving an integrated sense of who one is at one’s best.
A strengths-based approach to personal development assumes that progress towards excellence is not a function of improving on weaknesses, but is a function of building on strengths. As you’ll see in the last step of this exercise, the RBSE™ takes a nuanced approach to developing understanding of both your strengths and weaknesses. CHANGES TO THIS EDITION The 2011 version of the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ has been updated to reflect advancements in research and years of feedback from users and facilitators of the exercise. Some of the important updates were to: Highlight unique attributes of the RBSE™, such as the use of stories, an emphasis on strengths exclusively, and solicitation of respondents from all contexts of the participant’s life • Instruct participants to write personal best-self stories to consider with the reflected best-self stories • Provide more instruction on the analysis of best-self stories individually and in aggregate • Incorporate action-planning activities into the RBSE™ to help participants identify developmental goals that relate to the best self • Combine the best of the original Reflected Best Self Exercise: Assignment and Instructions to Participants and the Bringing My Reflected Best Self to Life booklet previously published separately • Honor wisdom gained by facilitators and users over the years since first publication REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN TABLE OF CONTENTS
Participant Instructions …………………………………………………………………………. 1 Phase 1: Creating the Reflected Best-Self Portrait Step 1: Identify Potential Respondents……………………………………………………….. 1, 2 Step 2: Request Reflected Best-Self Stories ………………………………………………… 2, 3 Step 3: Write Your Own Best-Self Stories ……………………………………………………. 3, 4 Step 4: Analyze All Best-Self Stories………………………………………………………….. 4, 5, 6 Step 5: Compose the Reflected Best-Self Portrait………………………………………….. 6 Phase 2: Bringing the Reflected Best Self to Life
Step 1: Analyze Context, List Enablers and Blockers………………………………………. 7, 8, 9 Step 2: Create an Action Plan …………………………………………………………………. 9, 10 Author Information……………………………………………………………………………….. 11 History and Basis in Research…………………………………………………………………. 12 About the Center for POS………………………………………………………………………. 12 © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ PARTICIPANT INSTRUCTIONS Two phases comprise the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™).
In Phase 1, you will create your reflected best-self portrait. In Phase 2, you will create a personal development action plan inspired by new insight into you at your best. (Content previously found in the Bringing My Reflected Best Self to Life workbook. ) After each step in either phase you will see how our sample participant, Shawn, approached the step and a “Your Turn” icon ( ) with suggestions for how you can approach the step yourself. For some steps we also discuss other options to augment the exercise. Phase 1 | Creating the Reflected Best-Self Portrait Step 1: Identify Potential Respondents Thoughtfully select 15-20 people whom you will ask to write stories about you at your best. Why 15 – 20?
Over time, researchers of the RBSE™ have found that identifying 15-20 potential respondents from whom you wish to solicit best-self stories should help surface a sufficient number of stories. Realize that due to time and other constraints, not everyone will be able to respond. Ideally, you will receive at least 30 stories, or three stories from 10 respondents, of you at your best. This number has provided past RBSE™ participants with sufficient data in which patterns across those stories can be found. How should I create this list of potential respondents? Choose people who have seen you at your best and people who will give you their honest opinion.
Research shows that the RBSE™ is most effective when your respondents come from a mix of colleagues (former or current), superiors or subordinates, friends (old or recent), family members, customers, and anyone who has had extended contact with you. Know that past participants have found that their respondents have been quite willing, even eager, to assist with this exercise. (And past participants have been happy to reciprocate the favor! ) TABLE 1: SAMPLE LIST OF POTENTIAL RESPONDENTS PAGE 1 /// REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN YOUR TURN: Review the lists of contacts in your email account, address book, or social networking sites to refresh your memory.
When you create a list of potential respondents, double-check to make sure a cross-section of people from your spheres of influence is represented. Shawn used a spreadsheet to organize the list. Step 2: Request Reflected Best-Self Stories Compose a story request (see example request below) and email it to the 15-20 potential respondents you identified in Step 1. NOTE: There are many ways to solicit and gather these stories. The below example is written for an individual user who is soliciting and compiling best-self stories as a class assignment. If your professor or program administrator is soliciting and compiling stories on your behalf, please use the customized instructions that they provide for contacting potential respondents.
Shawn’s Sample Email Request for Stories Dear [name], I hope this message finds you well! I am writing to request your help with a class assignment. I am taking a course on leadership development as part of my MBA program. I would be grateful for your help with one of the required exercises for the course, the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™). The Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at University of Michigan created the RBSE™ to help individuals expand their understanding of who they are and what they do when they are at their best. The RBSE™ is a unique story-, strength-, and contribution-based approach to feedback-seeking and analysis.
A former RBSE participant said of the process, “Besides feeling closer to my friends and peers for their positive views of me, it was very interesting to note the different impact that I seem to have made on each of them. The specifics mentioned by them allowed me to see some of the mechanisms by which I influence and have had an impact on people. ” I am asking people who know me well to provide me with three stories of when I was at my best in their eyes. What was my positive contribution in each story? Additional instructions and examples can be found below. Please e-mail your responses to me by [insert date]. Thank you very much for your cooperation. I will keep all responses anonymous and will be sure to tell you what I learn after the exercise.
Kind Regards, Shawn ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS This will require you to think about your interactions with me and to identify those times when I was at my best in your eyes. In writing, please be sure to provide details so I can understand the context, what happened, and what my positive contribution was. Best-self stories often capture things that people say or do in critical times or everyday routines that make a difference. These stories are © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ /// PAGE 2 often unacknowledged publicly. Best-self stories may describe someone’s approach to people, challenges, tasks, or even a work environment. I have included some examples of what these stories could look like. Please use this only as a guide. STORY EXAMPLES 1.
From work colleague: You have the ability to get people to work together and give all they have to a task. For example, I think of the time that we were working on the Alpha project. We were getting behind and the stress was building. We started to close down and get very focused on just meeting our deadline. You noticed that we were not doing our best work and stopped the group to rethink our approach. You asked whether we wanted to just satisfy the requirements or whether we wanted to really do good and important work. You reminded us of what we were capable of doing and how each of us could contribute to a better outcome. No one else in that room would have thought to do that.
As a result, we did meet the deadline and created a result we all feel proud of. 2. From a friend: You have capacity to persist in the face of adversity. For example, I think of the time that we were helping Lila empty her flooded basement. Her family lives far away and she was impossibly short-handed. Instead of getting overwhelmed with her, you became more focused than I have ever seen anyone get. I think you went 24 hours without sleep to help her remove the water. I was amazed that you could maintain a positive attitude and consistently helpful orientation to Lila under those conditions. 3. From a boss: You are great at building relationships critical to project success.
For example, I think of the time that: We were working for a clothing company committed to using organically grown cotton, and to having fair labor practices. You were the liaison with the various agencies and individuals critical to sourcing the organic cotton, and to creating the worker-owned sewing cooperatives here and in Central America. Despite resistance, you crafted and co-created a vision for how the business could work to meet these radically different goals. You easily navigated cultural differences and built strong relationships that thrive to this day. If you want to learn more about the Reflected Best Self Exercise™, please visit http://www. centerforpos. org YOUR TURN: Feel free to copy and edit Shawn’s letter to suit your situation and personal style.
Consider the options for disseminating this request—hard copy letter, email, online form or survey—while keeping in mind instructions from your facilitator, speed of delivery and response, ease of compilation, and so on. Step 3: Write Your Own Best-Self Stories While you are awaiting your stories from respondents, we ask you to engage in deeper personal reflection about times when you believe you were at your best. You will analyze your own best-self stories, and the analysis will be part of your final reflected best-self portrait. Write your own best-self stories Think about three times in your life when you were at your best. Allow yourself to think of stories from all PAGE 3 /// REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN contexts and time periods. For three of these memories, write the story of what happened.
In the story you could describe the context, the role you played, the actions you took, the characteristics you displayed, the results, and the reasons behind your actions. The examples and explanation in the sample letter in Step 2 can be helpful also. Sample Best-Self Story I feel I was at my best helping my organization create and pursue a new vision. We had been in existence for ten years and had tried and learned so many things along the way. I believed in the organization’s mission but wanted to move us in a new direction to expand our impact. I reflected on what was possible and crafted a vision of our team at our best. I presented the vision to my team and was delighted to incorporate their ideas into mine, thus creating something entirely new in a way that united the team.
YOUR TURN: Pretend you received the story request you sent in Step 2. Reflect about times when you were, and normally are, at your best and capture the stories that exemplify that time in the same space, document, or file that will eventually house the stories you receive from respondents. Step 4: Analyze All Best-Self Stories Collect and aggregate your stories and the stories from respondents. Read and reflect on each story Read each of your stories carefully. In a table like the one below, note key insights into who you are and what you do when you are at your best. You’ll have an opportunity to analyze the context of the story. Please focus on your actions, contributions, attitudes, etc.
WARNING: Reading these stories can stir up a great deal of (positive) emotions for you. It is normal to find yourself surprised by how people saw you positively. We recommend you find a quiet time and space where you can be free from interruptions and you can reflect on what you are learning. NOTE: We have analyzed the stories provided in the line sample email in Step 2 as an example below. TABLE 2: SAMPLE INDIVIDUAL STORY REFLECTION © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ /// PAGE 4 YOUR TURN: Collect the stories you receive in a spreadsheet or other document, using the column headings shown in the example for the analysis.
OPTIONAL STEP: Have a trusted group member or friend read your personal and reflected best-self stories to see if they come up with different themes or interpretations for each of the stories. Analyze the stories in aggregate After you have thought deeply about each of the stories, look for patterns and themes that emerge from considering the stories and analysis together. These patterns or themes will help you write declarative statements about you at your best. These declarative statements will be represent anchoring “truths” about you at your best and can later be woven into your reflected best-self portrait. PATTERNS: Recurring behaviors, contributions, etc. , across all of the stories and analysis.
If you are unsure about how to find patterns, try looking for verbs, adjectives, and nouns that you see repeated in the stories or in your analysis of each story. For example, repeated verbs could lend insight into some of your best skills and strengths, and repeated adjectives may lend insight into some of your values and aptitudes, your approaches to problem solving, and the nature of your relationships. THEMES: Underlying truths about your values and beliefs and the essence of you at your best, inferred from the collection of stories and analysis. Identify themes and patterns and list several examples from your stories that exemplify that theme.
NOTE: You may also find stories that exemplify seemingly opposite characteristics. If this is the case, it may indicate adaptability or flexibility as a strength in particular contexts. For example, you might find stories where you find creative solutions, but also consistently comply with standards. TABLE 3: SAMPLE AGGREGATED STORY REFLECTION PAGE 5 /// REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN YOUR TURN: Use a spreadsheet or other document to create a table like the one in Table 3. OPTIONAL STEP: Have a trusted group member or friend read your personal and reflected best-self stories to see if they come up with different themes or interpretations.
Step 5: Compose the Reflected Best-Self Portrait Create a portrait of your best-self that captures the wisdom in your personal and reflected best-self analysis. The portrait is meant to be an aggregated articulation of your personal and reflected best self which you can refer to and revise well into the future. It should synthesize the themes and declarations you identified in the tables above. However, be sure that the themes are authentic to you—not necessarily just things you do well, but that reflect your identity as a human being. Reflected best-self portraits are often represented in the form of written narratives (see below for an example).
We have also seen participants employ a variety of media to create their reflected best-self portraits. For example, you might represent your portrait in a pictorial collage or montage, a video, a song, or a poem. You may even choose to use multiple formats. Shawn’s Sample Reflected Best-Self Portrait When I am at my best, I tend to be creative. I am enthusiastic about ideas and I craft bold visions. I am an innovative builder who perseveres in the pursuit of the new. I do not waste energy thinking about missed opportunities or past failures nor do I take on the negative energy of the insecure or worry about critics. I stay centered and focused on what is possible and important. I use frameworks to help me make sense of complex issues.
I can see disparate ideas and integrate them through “yes and” thinking. So I make points others do not readily see. In doing so, I frame experiences in compelling and engaging ways. I paint visions and provide new ways for people to see. I use metaphors and stories to do this. I find the stories in everyday experiences, and people find it easy to understand them. The new images that follow help people to take action. In helping others, I try to empathize with them and understand their needs. I give them my attention and energy but I allow them to be in charge. In exercising influence, I try to enroll people, not force them, in new directions. I invite people to work with me.
I use dialog to help people surface their ideas, and then I weave them together with others until we create knowledge in real time. I ignore symptoms and focus on the deep causes. I help people and groups surface the darkest realities and the most painful conflicts. From these emergent tensions comes the energy for transformation. I liberate people from their fears and help them embrace new paths. In all of this I try to model the message of integrity, growth and transformation. YOUR TURN: Be sure to check with the instructor or facilitator of the RBSE™ to see if there is a preferred portrait format. Otherwise choose a medium that inspires you!
As mentioned above, it could be a pictorial collage or montage, a video, a song, or a poem, or a combination of multiple formats. OPTIONAL STEP: Share your draft and final portraits with a trusted group member or friend and request feedback. He or she may be able to help you see your portrait differently. © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ /// PAGE 6 Phase 2 | Bringing the Reflected Best Self to Life As you complete your reflected best-self portrait and begin to talk about your best self with others, more questions may emerge. You may be wondering: • How can I use this knowledge to enhance the quality of my work and my life? • How might I incorporate my best self into my current job, relationships, and future career plans? Which situations will stimulate me to contribute maximally from a position of strength? Can those situations also help me to grow and develop? • How can I manage my limitations? The steps below can help answer these questions. Step 1: Analyze Context, List Enablers and Blockers As you review your portrait, stories, themes, and patterns, look to identify contextual elements that either helped or hindered your ability to be your best. These enablers and blockers can be personal, relational, or situational. Personal enablers or blockers include the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that affect your ability to leverage your best self in a given context. How do your personal beliefs support or undermine your best self?
EXAMPLE: An individual’s belief in his or her ability to contribute in class is correlated with how often he or she chooses to do so. Relational enablers and blockers are those relationships that either support or undermine your best self. EXAMPLE: Shawn has one sister who is a great sounding board for new ideas, but another sister who only points out what could go wrong. Situational enablers and blockers include any contextual features (e. g. , organizational standards, systems, and practices) that promote or inhibit leveraging your best self. Which situations bring out the best in you? Which situations inhibit your best self? EXAMPLE: Some people are at their best in group situations, rather than when working alone.
Shawn is best working with others and rarely does well when isolated or working in an impersonal environment. On Weakness: A word of caution as you begin this analysis: remember that your weaknesses should be considered as blockers. While this exercise focuses on your strengths, neglecting any known Achilles’ heels could interfere with your ability to capitalize on your strengths. Robert Kaplan1 has identified two common distortions in behavior that are useful to consider here: overdoing strengths and underdoing strengths2. The table on the next page illustrates some other common “fatal flaws”: 1 2 Kaplan, S. (2002). Know your strengths. Harvard Business Review. 80(3), 20. From High Flyers by Morgan W. McCall, Jr. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998) page 29, figure 2-1. PAGE 7 /// REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN TABLE 4: AVOID OVER-RELIANCE ON YOUR STRENGTHS 2 Sources of initial success… Track Record Makes an impressive impact in functional or technical area > > … can become fatal flaws. Seen as too narrow in a particular area Brilliance Seen as uncommonly bright > Intimidating; dismissive of other people’s ideas Commitment Sacrifice Extremely loyal to the organization > Defines life in terms of work; expects others to do the same Charm Capable of considerable charisma and warmth > Uses selectively to manipulate other people Ambition
Does whatever is required to achieve success > Does what is necessary to achieve personal success, even at the expense of others in the organization In many situations you are required to operate in your areas of weakness. If you do not perform your job’s tasks at a reasonable level of competence, failure will follow. Try managing around weaknesses instead: this may mean finding someone else to do the tasks you do poorly, putting in enough effort to develop your areas of weakness to an acceptable level of performance, and so on. Now is the time to analyze your data to see if they reveal any patterns or insights regarding either personal, relational, or situational factors.
TABLE 5: SAMPLE IDENTIFICATION OF ENABLERS AND BLOCKERS © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ /// PAGE 8 YOUR TURN: Shawn listed some enablers and blockers in a spreadsheet with two columns. In the end, his list was actually much longer than this with many more enablers than blockers. It might be good to have two totally different documents for listing these to allow yourself room for more creativity. Step 2: Create an Action Plan As you navigate choices about what type of assignments to seek and what kind of skills to develop among a million other choices you face, it helps to work toward an action plan rooted in the insights about you at your best.
Having a better understanding of your best self and the skills, characteristics, and opportunities that you need to make a positive impact increases the odds that you will make choices differently after this exercise. Your challenge, therefore, is to identify how to grow from where you are today. This is precisely the purpose of visioning and articulating an action plan. Visioning: Reflect on the choices you will have to make in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. Reflect on your best-self stories, your reflected best-self portrait, and your list of enablers and blockers as you prepare to write your action plan. What can you do to amplify the conditions or relationships that enable you to be your best at these decision points? How can you work around or lessen the “blockers”?
How can you make your best self even better? TABLE 6: SAMPLE REFLECTION PAGE 9 /// REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN YOUR TURN: Consider your key choices and the (short-term and long-term) actions that will help you be at your best. Write your thoughts down! Shawn chose a spreadsheet dividing the choices by immediacy. Shawn could do a chart like this for personal and community life, too. Action Planning: In this section, take look at your reflections and think about what you would need to do to bring them to life. The following questions might be helpful: • How will you know if you are making progress with your best self goals? What evidence will you seek to document your progress? • What resources will you need to continue to develop into your best self? • What is your plan for accessing or building these resources? Sample Action Plan When I give performance evaluations I will know I am my best self when employees leave feeling energized about what is possible for their future with my team. I will help him/her see his/her best self and possibilities for managing weakness. We’ll come up with an action plan together. I will watch the employee’s behavior during our meeting but also in the weeks following the evaluation. I will meet with the employee regularly to listen to his/her story of progress.
I will need to make time in my schedule to do this but it is time well-spent if we can keep the team energized. I will talk to my boss this week to enroll him in this plan, which will help me get the resources I need to execute it. YOUR TURN: Shawn chose to reflect the action plan in narrative form, create in a picture of goals the steps necessary to attain them. Choose the medium to do the same that works best for you—calendar reminders, apprise accountability partners, etc. OPTIONAL STEP: Have a trusted group member or friend read your reflections for this section. Encourage this person to help you see even more resources and hold you accountable to your action plan. Thank you for completing the Reflected Best Self Exercise™!
We wish you the best! © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ /// PAGE 10 AUTHOR INFORMATION Robert E. Quinn Margaret Elliott Tracy Collegiate Professor in Business Administration; Professor of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan Robert E. Quinn is interested in the process of positive change. He seeks to understand processes that lead to increased individual and collective capacity. His recent books include Lift: Becoming a Positive Force in any Situation (Berrett-Koehler 2009) and Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture (Jossey-Bass 2006). He combines both a research and an applied orientation.
He has 25 years of experience in working with executives on issues of organizational change. He teaches in both the MBA and Executive Education programs at the University of Michigan and is known for innovative instructional efforts. Jane E. Dutton Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology, University of Michigan Jane Dutton’s research on positive organizational scholarship began with an interest in compassion and the difference it makes for individuals and organizations. Her research has expanded to focus on the power of positive relationships at work, positive identities and meaning, job crafting, and resilience.
Her recent books include Exploring Positive Identities and Organizations (Routledge 2009), Exploring Positive Relationships and Organizations (Lawrence Erlbaum 2007), and Positive Organizational Scholarship (BerrettKoehler 2003). Jane’s background in strategic management keeps her focused on how positive dynamics create sustainable capabilities in organizations. Gretchen Spreitzer Professor of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan Gretchen Spreitzer’s research focuses on employee empowerment and leadership development, particularly within a context of organizational change and decline. Her most recent work is looking at positive deviance and how organizations enable employees to thrive and become their best selves.
Most recently she is involved in a large-scale project to validate a measure of thriving at work and better understand strategies employees can use to regulate their subjective and physiological energy. Her books include A Company of Leaders (Jossey-Bass 2001) and the Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship (Oxford, 2011), co-edited with Kim Cameron. Laura Morgan Roberts Professor of Psychology, Culture, and Organization Studies, Antioch University Laura Morgan Roberts’s research focuses on how to construct, sustain, and restore positive identities at work. She became interested in positive organizational scholarship through her doctoral dissertation research on social identity-based impression management among medical professionals.
Her interests in the social construction of positive identities now include: the reflected best self, diversity, authenticity, strengths, leadership, and talent management. She is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship. PAGE 11 /// REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HISTORY AND BASIS IN RESEARCH The Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™) is the product of work by scholars at the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. It had its genesis in Bob Quinn’s belief in the benefit of colleagues sharing their thoughts on each other’s strengths. After seeing the power it had in executive education rograms, he joined Jane Dutton, Emily Heaphy, Laura Morgan Roberts, and Gretchen Spreitzer to form the Reflected Best Self lab in 2002. The team conducted research on the concept, and began using it in classes, with great success. In 2003, Bob Quinn, Jane Dutton, and Gretchen Spreitzer wrote the Reflected Best Self Exercise: Assignment and Instructions to Participants, and they, along with Laura Morgan Roberts, created an accompanying teaching note. Since then, use of the RBSE™ has spread throughout the U. S. , and it is increasingly being used around the world. Universities, which have included it in their curricula include Darden School of Business, Harvard Business School, MIT, Stephen M.
Ross School of Business, University of British Columbia, University of Southern California, and Washington University. It was also the subject of articles in the Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management Review in 2005 and in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2009. Key references include: Roberts, L. , Dutton, J. , Spreitzer, G. , Heaphy, E. , & Quinn, R. (2005). Composing the reflected best self portrait: Building pathways for becoming extraordinary in work organizations. Academy of Management Review, 30(4), 712-736. Roberts, L. , Spreitzer, G. , Dutton, J. , Quinn, R. , Heaphy, E. , & Barker, B. (2005). How to play to your strengths. Harvard Business Review, 83(1), 75-80. Spreitzer, G. , Stephens, J. P. , & Sweetman, D. (2009).
The Reflected Best Self field experiment with adolescent leaders: exploring the psychological resources associated with feedback source and valence. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5), 331-348. ABOUT THE CENTER FOR POS At the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), we are devoted to energizing and transforming organizations through research on the theory and practice of positive organizing and leadership. We are passionately dedicated to the development and dissemination of POS research. Our activities include conducting research, writing on POS topics for academic and general books and periodicals, writing teaching cases, and creating tools to help individuals improve their work life.
We share POS principles in BBA, MBA, and Executive Education programs at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and in presentations at various academic institutions. Positive Links, our monthly speaker series, brings together scholars and practitioners to learn and discuss new POS research and POS links to practice. We are also passionate about building the community of researchers who study POS, and our biennial conference attracts scholars from around the world. We are all on a quest to reveal what is possible in organizations and for employees. © 2003, 2011 REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REFLECTED BEST SELF EXERCISE™ /// PAGE 12 DESIGNED BY STEPHANIE HARDEN

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