October 7, 2014: 7 Ways to Profit from Positivity – Part 2

Happy Customer Service Week – or as I like to call it “Customer Happiness Week.” This year I am focusing on making sure the
internal customers are happy, engaged and inspired to do their best work in service of the external customer.

To celebrate Customer Happiness, here is the link to a fr*ee webinar I did last week. Watch it immediately. The link will expire in a week.

In our last tip I mentioned that when people feel good at work they are more productive, more creative, more resilient, more likely to achieve their goals. I shared several ways you and your business can profit from positivity.
We talked about:

1. Giving people the opportunity to use their strengths and skills.

Decades of research tells us that we don’t usually profit from getting people to “fix” their weaknesses, but we can profit when we help them enhance and build on their strengths.

2. Providing challenge; stretching goals and opportunities for advancement.

People want to grow. It’s an evolutionary impulse. It’s your job as a leader to help people outgrow their comfort zones, without throwing them into their panic zones.

3. Providing a balance between stress and recovery.

We can’t keep burning out our workforces. We are still human beings and every action has a price – our precious energy. We must create energy gains and not just drains in the workplace.

If you didn’t read the last tip, you may want to go there and read the intro and the first three suggestions in more detail.
Here are four more ways for you to get more profit and power from positivity:

4. Express authentic appreciation

William James said the deepest human need is that for appreciation. When leaders develop the art of listening deeply and giving meaningful feedback and genuine appreciation, performance usually increases.

Years ago behavioral scientists discovered that behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. Now I’m not talking about money here – because money loses its power to motivate as soon as people get used to having a little more of it and spend it, I’m talking about a different kind of currency, also one that appreciates over time.

When feeling appreciation – we create a positive emotional and physical response that changes the variability patterns of our heart. When we all do it at the same time – we are literally all on the same wavelength.

A leader has an opportunity to offer a different and more productive wavelength. Create a ritual – start and end a meeting with gratitude and appreciation. I’ve never heard an employee complain that they get appreciated too much. Let’s get beyond the “attaboy.” You have the opportunity to create behaviors that help people feel valued and appreciated. Do it often. Do it sincerely.

5. Create connection to people and purpose – a “cause”

There are five paths to enduring happiness and well -being. Pleasure, engagement, relationship, meaning and accomplishment. The fullest life has a little of each. Happiness is not just feeling good – the hedonic rush we get from the pleasure of a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a big sale, or a successful marketing campaign, it also comes from being fully engaged – involved – in what you are doing. Whether its engagement at work or with a hobby, a sport, yoga, engagement is the second face of happiness. That’s why engaged employees are happy.

Another path to happiness is meaning – being connected to something outside ourselves – that’s bigger than we are.

Jason Jennings, author of “Think Big, Act Small” and “Less is MORE” studied over 160,000 companies – to find the fastest and the most productive ten. He says the best companies turn their mission and vision into a cause. They connect their people with a compelling “why” to do business. A cause gives meaning to people’s lives. It provides purpose, fuels passion, drives momentum and builds culture. And according to Jason “culture is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Cause is only one of the things that help people feel connected – the other is friends. According to Gallup – people are 7 times more likely to be engaged when they have a best friend at work. Give people the opportunities to create and cultivate relationships and friendships and connect them to a cause bigger than themselves and you are contributing to their happiness and well-being.

6. Shift from “Power over” to “Power with”

We’ve all experienced the first power shift in the marketplace – the power has shifted from the people who sell to the people who buy. Now we need to look at the power shift that needs to happen inside our companies. The newest shift in the model from Power over to Power with.
There are still vestiges of Power over today: decisions are made at the top; critical information is only held by a few; there is a scarcity attitude and a mechanistic view of the organization as a machine; There are lots of rules, procedures, extrinsic rewards, fear, threats, and often punishment for non compliance. This model that tends to dwell on weakness – looks for what’s wrong and who’s to blame for it. The old “my way or the highway” attitude that characterized the command and control models still exist in some form in lots of companies.
Want to engage and involve employees? You have to believe in their brilliance, not just your own. Power with is a more organic model. It sees the organization as a system where everything is related; it strives for intrinsic motivation by connection to that cause.

It’s all about leveraging the strengths and INCLUDING the people that do the work in the decision-making processes. It’s a win-win model.

How do you get to this model? You master the art of letting go. It’s one of the hardest things for a leader. Let go of ego, let go of the need to be right, let go of same old same old. Let go.

7. Use Positive Leadership practices

Let me start by saying this – because people misunderstand me frequently – there is a place for negative thinking in business – there are positive uses for pessimism. Negative emotions play an important role in helping us navigate around danger – there are times when it’s very important to look at the what’s WRONG of things.

However – too much of this kind of thinking and managing narrows our outlook and perspective and physiologically puts us in a state of contraction where creativity and innovation are impossible. Honor the place negative thinking has in business but don’t worship it. In business – as in marriage – if you want to flourish use the 5:1 ratio.

Five positive interactions to every one negative. Spend five times more of your time in positive frames than in negative ones. Give five times more positive than corrective feedback. Psychologists studying peak performing teams observe a HIGH positive to negative ratio of words, questions, facial expressions and body language. Be a leader with the intention and the power to create positive emotion. Why?

The experience of positive emotions:

  • Widens our scope of attention, gives us more choices, increases our intuition, increases our creativity, speeds problem solving.
  • Alters the front brain symmetry; increases our immune function; lowers our cortisol levels and speeds recovery from cardiovascular effects of negativity.
  • Increases our resilience to adversity; Increases our happiness; reduces our inflammatory response to stress; reduces pain; reduces the likelihood of stroke and high blood pressure. Positive emotion increases our psychological capital and produces hope, optimism, resilience and efficacy.
  • And there is a clear link between positive emotions and longevity – optimists live on average 7-9 years longer than pessimists.
  • Over time, positive emotions make us healthier, more socially adept, more knowledgeable, more effective and did I say resilient? Powerful reasons for creating positivity.

Positive emotions in business alter all business outcomes in a positive way.

How do you become a positive leader?

Start by looking for what’s right, what’s possible, what’s good. Learn how to listen for strengths – even in every day conversations. Practice the art of authentic appreciation. Create mechanisms and positive rituals that bring out the best in people. Be bold – be like the little country of Bhutan – they’ve made Gross National Happiness official public policy and measure it every year.

Companies with the happiest employees are also the most productive.

Will happiness make it to your agenda this year? There is a powerful return on happiness in business when you couple it with extreme customer focus.

Take the next step and learn more about what a Positive Leadership focus can do for your team.

Come visit me at www.PositiveLeadershipCoaching.com. You and your customers will be glad you did.

With gratitude,


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