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Organization Management Journal





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Despite recent advancements in understanding of leadership in context, there is surprisingly little insight into leadership in crisis – a context that is both pervasive and particularly challenging. To provide insight into how leaders navigate crisis, we utilize historical sources of Sir Winston Churchill’s leadership during World War II (WWII) to analyze 1) which resources may leaders use in crisis and 2) how they leverage these resources to lead through and out of the crisis. We discover that positive psychological capital (PsyCap) is a core strategic resource that leaders leverage in crisis. Our findings suggest that leaders leverage PsyCap as a core resource to build second-order capabilities needed to 1) prepare in the anticipation of a crisis, 2) persevere in the face of obstacles during the crisis, and 3) lead out of the crisis. In addition, we show that leaders do not just leverage PsyCap in its entirety; rather depending on circumstances, different elements of the PsyCap become more prominent at different times. In doing so, this study contributes to positive organizational behavior and leadership literatures by empirically illustrating dynamic nature of PsyCap as well as how leaders leverage it to navigate crisis.


This article has been accepted for publication in Organization Management Journal, published by Taylor & Francis. This is an original manuscript / preprint of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Organization Management Journal on 21 September 2017, available online: