The “Hero” Within – a new approach to Psychological Capital

An academic paper released by the University of Nebraska written by Fred Luthans and Carolyn Youssef-Morgan in 2017 created a new perspective on Psychological Capital.

Much of that explained in the paper is not new to the coaching community, but there are some useful insights in their approach.  The use of an acronym, “HERO” is helpful in simplifying what can be a complicated subject.  The constituents of HERO were explained thus:

  • “H” stood for HOPE: the positive motivational state.  
  • “E” for EFFICACY: the confidence an individual has in his/her capacity to complete a given task.
  • “R” stood for RESILIENCE: the ability to rebound or bounce back after adversity.
  • “O” for OPTIMISM: a style that accentuates the positive over the negative.

The paper admits there is more work to be done to add to these key constituents, but coaches will have experienced, used and understood these constituents on a daily basis.

The paper asserts that an individual’s psychological capital is made up from: nature-nurture (50%), circumstances such as age, income, appearance, residency (10%), leaving 40% of its makeup under our own control and which can be purposefully shaped.  It goes on to support the idea that all four of the key constituents of Psychological Capital can be developed through careful and selective training and coaching – nothing new here !  It confirms that in the past psychological interventions were reserved for ‘fixing’ mental illness and dysfunctional behaviour, but that such interventions  are now used readily for developing individuals enriching the 40% available to influence. 

Another interesting aspect discussed by the authors was the “Copernican Effect”. Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer, who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at the centre of the universe.  This paradigm shift away from the hitherto accepted layout of the planetary system was likened by the authors to the theory that rather than success leading to positivity, positivity is the antecedent to success.  My assertion is that there is scope for both theories to have a place in enriching psychological capital.

This is an interesting paper, full of academic references, but one which I feel would be a good read for coaches and coach supervisors.

The full paper can be found at: 


About adob4sight

I am a coach, facilitator, and coach supervisor who works with key decision makers in business as well as private individuals, helping them maximise performance at work or in their lives outside the workplace. At 4sight Communications we work predominently with individuals in a one-to-one relationship facilitating the adaption of behaviours and attitudes to improve performance. Particular areas around which assistance is sought are: communications, leadership, relationships, work/life balance, addressing change and conflict, time management, goal setting and clarifiation of values. We also conduct team facilitation and coaching for middle ranking and senior teams of up to 10 persons. We are qualified to administer and interpret a series of psychometric assessments - ranging from 'personality profiling' to measuring an individual's 'mental toughness quotient'. All assessments are followed up with one-to-one sessions clarifying and facilitating areas indentified for development. One of the psychometrics used can be adapted for the recruitment of senior staff with the organisation able to input criteria for a particular post. We have qualified coaching supervisors who will provide a service for both professional coaches as well as 'internal company' coaches to ensure that not only the coach his/herself is properly developed, but also the interests of the client/coachee are served and ethics are adhered to. If you are interested in any of the 'above', get in touch !
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