Positive leaders are like WiFi

Executive coach Steve Gladis also researched the researchers on positivity and wrote “Positive Leadership – the Game Changer at Work”.
He quotes the notorious Gallup research: Currently, only 20% of the work population is actively engaged at work – so 80% are not!
Many people dread going to work on Monday because their “conventional industrial age-organization” makes them suffer. This negativity leads to disengagement and a 30% lack of productivity (Buckingham, 2005) while happy employees are 31% more productive and 300% more creative (Lyubomirsky, 2008). These research numbers combined state that 80% of the work population is producing 31% less than what they are capable of. That means a huge missed opportunity, both financially and in terms of well-being!.

Why is positivity so critical for leaders?

Gladis shares a story about his former bosses Phil and Bill. Phil was open, playful, easy and safe to talk to, and Steve enjoyed his job and team. Then Phil got promoted and was replaced by Bill. Bill was judgmental and distrusting and infected the team with his attitude, remarks, and behaviors. To Steve’s surprise coworkers started to distrust each other. One after the other, people quit (in line with the research that people leave their bosses, not their jobs or the company). Does that resonate with you? I have similar experiences with former bosses.

Authority, either from Phil or Bill, has a powerful influence on followers because the leader archetype affects us all – whether we’re aware of it or not, and whether we like it or not. Remember the notorious Milgram experiment in the 1960s where people obeyed authority figures and inflicted what would have been fatal electric shocks to other people (no actual shock was applied – the others were actors). We have been trained to rely on and obey to the leadership of our parents, teachers, and elders. It is deeply embedded in our subconscious mind.

Why is positivity so critical for leaders? Click To Tweet

In addition to our focus on leadership, the amygdala in our brains scans the environment for potential dangers, like a smoke detector. “It is always on and stimulates the injection of hormones for fight and flight. Its basic question is: Will this threat eat me, or can I eat it? (Goleman, 2007).”
If we assess something as a threat, we will focus on it which narrows our scope, creativity, and ability to think of creative solutions. In contrast, our normal peripheral vision offers an 180-degree panoramic vision – but under stress, this is reduced!

“When we get overstressed through the grind of threat after threat in our fast-paced world, we invest more energy to keep things afloat. (…) Eventually, all that stress pushes us in a state of negativity called dissonance. Dissonance produces poor judgment, disharmony and ultimately dysfunction (Boyatzis).

Under these conditions, our visual field can narrow to as little as 30 degrees, depending on the severity of the threat. We get fixated only on what is in front of us – often making poor decisions – because we lack the advantages of peripheral vision (greater data input).”

Working with a Positive Leader makes you Positive

Stress creates tunnel vision and makes us vulnerable to judgment errors, jumping to conclusions, getting defensive and worse. Moreover, it’s spreading. Gladis says: “Leaders are like WiFi broadcasting a signal that gets picked up by roaming wireless network connectors in the brains of co-workers. Thus, leaders set the mood of the workplace and create a long-term culture over time.”

Fortunately, in case of positive leadership, this can be a good thing. Research shows that working in the vicinity of a positive leader, makes you positive (Goleman, Biyatzis, McKee, 2004).
Some theorists even say that we affect people at least three levels out beyond ourselves. Imagine a “contagion” of positivity spreading because you decided to make a difference!

That’s why I hope many of you will become Positive Agents, wherever you are… Join us!

Stress creates tunnel vision and makes us vulnerable to judgment errors Click To Tweet

It is beneficial to adopt a positive mindset, as research has shown. It will not only enhance your own performance but also your team’s and organization’s.

While a positive mindset, a positive communication style, focusing on strengths, values, and virtues, supporting employees, and envisioning excellent achievements matters – it does not mean that you are touchy-feely and wearing rose glasses.

You are realistic and acknowledge and address challenges, mistakes, setbacks and other “negative” events. The way you deal with reality, however, is a positive way; consciously choosing to work with the positive because science has proven that this greatly enhances wellbeing and performance.

So, what signal are you broadcasting?

This is book post #33 – ME

Here‘s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

I’m blogging my next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” Your feedback is appreciated!

You can help me by liking, sharing, and commenting.

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