Naysaying and negativity promote initial power establishment and leadership endorsement.

Conventional wisdom holds that leaders should behave in a supportive and positive manner. Yet the past decade has also seen a rise in naysayers’ ascent to power. This research investigates the intriguing possibility that although we may want our leaders to be cheerleaders, we instead empower naysayers. Integrating theoretical perspectives from psychology, leadership, and organizational theory, I present the Naysaying-Agency-Power-Leadership Efficacy (NAPLE) model, which captures the causal link between naysaying and power, and examine leadership efficacy as a downstream implication. Eleven studies provide empirical support for the model. Ten experimental studies demonstrate that naysaying and power are causally linked through the perception of agency. An additional study analyzed 518 eligible voters’ assessments of actual statements from U.S. presidential debates between 1980 and 2008. Results reveal that voters perceived negative and critical presidential candidates as more powerful and, in turn, were more willing to vote for them; this finding was robust to controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, political orientation, and voting history. By systematically establishing that naysaying induces power at the onset, and why, these findings illuminate an unanticipated, yet formidable, determinant of power. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)