Why and how positivity pays off

Marcella Bremer Positive Power 2 Comments

Professor Kim Cameron wrote “Positive Leadership – Strategies for extraordinary performance”, a concise guide that contains compelling research on the effects of Positive Leadership. It’s inspiring to see this collection of evidence – and to see what scientific research has confirmed. Although many findings may invoke a “duh” because it’s what you intuitively know to be true. Nevertheless, for the skeptics out there, this book is a great resource of proof that positivity pays off.

As we have seen, positive leadership refers to facilitating positively deviant performance, an affirmative bias (or a focus on strengths and capabilities) and on fostering virtuousness (striving toward goodness for its intrinsic value).

Cameron advocates a positive organizational climate where positive emotions prevail over negative emotions. Optimistic and cheerful employees are typical in this climate. Organizational performance is substantially and positively affected by a positive climate, as researched by Mathieu & Zajac (1990).

A focus on weaknesses or deficiencies usually leads to the development of competence whereas the focus on strengths can lead to excellence and positively deviant performance (Clifton & Harter, 2003).

Positive Emotions

Barbara Frederickson, another Positive Psychology pioneer, described the broaden and build phenomenon of positive emotions (1998). Experiencing positive emotions “broadens people’s momentary thought-action repertoires and builds their enduring personal resources” (Frederickson, 2003). Negative emotions narrow people’s thought-action repertoires and diminish their coping abilities.
A positive climate at work will “broaden and build” your organization because it makes people more creative, resilient, and innovative.

Negative emotions narrow people’s thought-action repertoires Click To Tweet

Jane Dutton and Gretchen Spreitzer offer an overview of Positive Organizational Scholarship in their book “How to Be a Positive Leader – Small Actions, Big Impact”. Another recommended reading tip!

High-quality connections

Jane Dutton shows that leaders need to encourage energizing interactions among their staff for a more creative organization and a competitive advantage. Humans are social animals that thrive when they have high-quality connections: interactions where both participants’ energy levels are increased, for instance when you discuss a topic that matters to you.
Research shows that employees with many high-quality connections are more creative and motivated to learn new things, and that’s important for companies who aim for innovation and need to change.

Going back to Cameron’s collection of research, I want to share some more evidence to adopt a positive mindset and ditto behaviors:

Positive relationships enhance the emotional carrying capacity of individuals Click To Tweet

Positive relationships enhance the emotional carrying capacity of individuals (Heaphy, 2007), fostered greater resiliency and an ability to adapt to and bounce back from difficult experiences (Dutton & Heaphy 2003), produced greater degrees of creativity, trust, and openness to new ideas (Pratt & Dirks 2007), fostered healthier team functioning (Ancona & Isaacs, 2007), raised levels of commitment to the organization (Kahn, 2007), created higher levels of energy, learning, cooperation, resource utilization, cost reduction, time savings, and human capital development in organizations (Baker & Dutton, 2007) and higher levels of project performance (Baker, Cross & Parker, 2003).
Forming close relationships tends to enhance and increase productivity and performance (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001; Dutton 2003, Lawler 2003).

This is book post #32 – ME

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

Copyright © Marcella Bremer 2017. All rights reserved.

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.

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