SOAR: A Framework to Build Positive Psychological Capacity in Strategic Thinking, Planning, and Leading

  • Matthew L. ColeEmail author
  • Jacqueline M. Stavros


Today’s challenging global business and economic environment makes it necessary to develop strategic thinkers who perform well together and deliver results. Traditional ways of thinking about strategy may limit one’s ability to effectively address and adapt to the ever-changing conditions and turbulent environment in which organizations operate. A McKinsey Quarterly study of 1300 global executives found that the highest performing organizations had a clear purpose, an understanding of strengths, shared aspirations, and leaders who knew how to unleash opportunities with a result-driven process. This chapter introduces SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results), an evidenced-based framework that is a profoundly positive approach to strategic thinking, planning, and leading used by hundreds of international organizations to build strategic capacity at the individual, team, and the organization level. SOAR’s operating system is Appreciative Inquiry, one of the most effective and widely used approaches for fostering positive change. SOAR creates a reservoir of positive energy to frame issues from a solution-oriented perspective that is generative and focused on strengths, new ideas, innovations and the best in people to emerge. SOAR begins with a strategic dialogue among all stakeholders in a team or organization into what is working well (strengths), what are possibilities for growth (opportunities), what are individual and shared desires (aspirations), and what are measures of success (results). In this chapter, the convergence of research and practice on SOAR is discussed. Next, results are presented of empirical research on SOAR’s role in building positive strategic capacity via the SOAR profile, a rapid assessment instrument used by individuals and teams to create a baseline understanding of one’s natural ability to think, plan, and lead strategically from a SOAR-based perspective. The chapter concludes with a discussion of SOAR’s role in promoting an inclusive environment that facilitates performance among multicultural teams and organizations in which SOAR-based strategy is a dynamic and generative process that focuses on strengths, whole system solutions, and stakeholder inclusion while building positive psychological capital.


Positive psychological capacity Positive strategy SOAR Appreciative Inquiry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Business & Information Technology, Lawrence Technological UniversitySouthfieldUSA

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