We investigate the role of strengths use in the workplace by drawing on self-determination theory (SDT) to propose that strengths use at work can yield performance benefits in terms of task performance and discretionary helping, and that the social context, in the form of leader autonomy support, can promote employees’ strengths use. Further, consistent with an interactional psychology perspective, we contend that the relationship between autonomy support and strengths use will be stronger among individuals with strong independent self-construal. We tested the model using matched data from 194 employees and their supervisors and found evidence for the relevance of strengths use at work, even after accounting for the role of intrinsic motivation. In addition to providing practical implications on developing employee strengths use and how to do so, this study advances theory and research on workplace strength use, SDT, and positive organizational behavior.

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Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis. This article first appeared in The Journal of Positive Psychology 11:1 (2016), 15-25.

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