Positive Practice: Why Does Positive Leadership Work?

Today, we’re building on the foundation of evidence that positive leadership delivers real results. Remember, everything I share is backed by proven strategies that have been tried, tested, and validated. Indeed, much of what I share in this blog is derived from the work of esteemed positive organizational researcher, Kim Cameron.

Today, you’ll discover:

            • What makes positive leadership work.

            • Why employees and organizations thrive when led by positive leaders.

            • How you can start implementing a positive leadership practice today.

What Works

Positive leadership works because of the heliotropic effect.

Now, before you think I’m getting all scientific, let me assure you that this is just a fancy label for a simple concept.

Essentially, the heliotropic effect is the search for light and what is life-giving.

Think about it, it’s only natural, and it occurs in all aspects of life:

            – Plants grow towards the light.

            – You turn the light on in a dark room.

            – We look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

We naturally seek what is beneficial and life-giving in the workplace, too. This translates into finding meaning in work, being satisfied in what we do, being engaged, and feeling like we’re valued and able to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

Here are 3 examples that demonstrate how the search for light sets us up for success.

1. In education: It’s been shown that students perform better when teachers are more engaged, more caring, and they cultivate a positive learning environment

2. In health: Happy and optimistic people are less likely to get sick when they come in contact with a virus due to their positive mindset.

3. In sports: Bowlers who watched tapes of their successful performances improved their scores more than those who watched tapes of their failures.

Why it Works

So, how does all this apply to the workplace? Well, just as students perform better when they are being nurtured and operating in a positive, strength-based environment, so too do employees. All of us are subject to the heliotropic effect. We’re all, whether at work or play, leaning towards the light and what is life-giving.

In a nutshell, positive leadership works because it leverages the power of the heliotropic effect by creating a positive climate in which employees work, and cultivating positive relationships, positive communication, and positive meaning. 

How to Start

Let’s start with one simple, yet highly effective, positive leadership practice you can put to use today—gratitude.

Practicing gratitude hits all four areas of positive leadership: Climate, Relationships, Communication and Meaning. Gratitude keeps everyone moving toward the light.

Take your pick from these tested and validated gratitude practices today:

  • Gratitude Journal: Record three things for which you are thankful every day; have your employees do the same.
  • Gratitude Letter: Write and deliver a letter to someone who has had a positive impact in your life—tell them what you are grateful for and what they mean to you.
  • Perfect Moments: Note and review with others the perfect moments in your life, no matter how small they might seem.
  • Gratitude Cards: Write and send 3-5 cards a day to someone in your organization.
  • Open Praise: Positively praise employees in front of their managers.
  • Spread the Gratitude: Create a ripple effect by letting families of employees know how grateful you are for them.

Each of these practices is free or very low cost. Sure, they’ll take up 5 minutes of your day, but as return on investment goes, it’s well worth it. Gratitude practices in organizations lead to greater employee performance, well-being, and team communications, to name but a few of the numerous positive outcomes that have been observed.

In fact, gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving because it trains the brain to look for the positive—what’s going well now and what opportunities lie ahead. When this happens, everyone in the organization begins to feel more valued, and that leads to a cohesive unit achieving extraordinary results.

Put the positive leadership practice of gratitude to work for you today and watch the heliotropic effect light your way to success.

For a deeper dive into this discussion, I invite you to listen to my podcast entitled, Why Does Positive Leadership Work?

Thank you for reading. If you have a question about Positive Leadership, ask me at [email protected] and I’ll answer it in a future blog.

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