Positive Psychology and CheerLEADING™


Wikipedia says “To Martin Seligman, psychology (particularly its positive branch) can investigate and promote realistic ways of fostering more joy in individuals and communities”. Don’t we all want some of that? Team members need it more than anything. People need to have a goal to work towards. Something positive to look forward to, to give them the motivation to keep working hard.

I’m not pretending to be an expert on Positive Psychology, but, from what I have heard and read, I think it’s a really useful scientific discipline which can be easily applied to the work environment, particularly when it’s applied to leadership.

Martin Seligman is considered to be the founder of modern Positive Psychology. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote, in their article “Positive Psychology: An Introduction“, “Because negative emotions often reflect immediate problems or objective dangers, they should be powerful enough to force people to stop, increase their vigilance, reflect on their behavior, and change their actions if necessary.” I think this is the key to Positive Psychology as a leadership discipline. It takes just that, discipline, to practice it effectively.

It takes a conscious effort, everyday, to be aware of how one’s actions impact others, particularly those who work for us. It is easy not to take notice, but we need to take notice and we need to adjust our behaviour if necessary. “Positive Psychology represents a commitment to the sources of psychological wellness, such as positive emotions, positive experiences, positive environments, and human strengths and virtues (Lyubomirsky, 2007).” I believe that leaders have an obligation to provide a positive environment for people at work.

Leaders also have an obligation to provide positive, as well as negative, feedback. In fact, the positive feedback should outweigh the negative. It might sound overly simple, but I believe leaders forget this. If people aren’t receiving positive reinforcement when they are doing a good job, they tend to cease doing such a good job.

Enabling staff at work and enabling teenagers at home

Ruby Red DotPeople need to feel like they have the power to choose what they want to do. Of course they do have the power to choose what to do, but sometimes you need them to choose one path over another. The path that has the best possible outcome for all.

I have twin twelve year old girls. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that I can easily draw parallels between enabling staff to do their best for the company and enabling and equipping your children with all the necessary skills to make the best decisions.

Communication is key. Making sure your children have your full attention, to always be able to tell you anything, without judgement. It’s difficult to do all the time, and it takes a lot of strength not to react, but it works. People who work for you are the same. They want to be heard, truly heard, and know that you listen to what they need and do something about it.

I’m really talking about two-way communication. When you ask for people’s opinions in your staff survey, you need to be able to follow it through with some changes. You also need to let your staff tell you about what is important to them, in a formal performance review process, and as an everyday practice, and listen and try as far as possible to accommodate or compromise.

Enterprise Social Networking

After implementing a targeted plan for increasing brand awareness externally, and a targeted recruitment campaign, we then developed, launched and implemented an internal branding campaign, designed to engage employees with the HLB brand and assist our firms’ overall employee engagement strategies. The campaign, called ‘Team HLB’, assists each member firm with employee engagement initiatives, and the key messages are extensions of the key messages used in the recruitment campaign and the external brand awareness campaign, and centre around teamwork and great people delivering great results.

We needed an internal communications tool to better communicate and collaborate across the Association. So, our latest internal communication initiative, and possibly the most radical ever for our organisation, was to implement an Enterprise Social Network. If you are unfamiliar with these, they are basically an internal social media platform, designed to increase communication and collaboration across an organisation. They use the best bits of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – all designed for internal use.

Enterprise Social Network
We were seeking a system to enable collaboration and open communication across the Association. Because of our structure of independent member firms, we needed something to enable member firms, mostly our national divisional and industry groups, to converse more effectively and efficiently. We would like to see an increase in conversations and knowledge sharing at all levels of the Association, breaking down the traditional barriers of geography.

One of the Association’s major goals is:
“Fostering Improved Collegiality & Knowledge Sharing”
We decided that an Enterprise Social Network could help us do this.

We have bought and implemented tibbr www.tibbr.com

The main drivers of the project are to increase internal collaboration and communication between national divisional (service lines) and industry groups. The partners in these groups currently liaise via telephone conferences and email. Any documents are shared via email. No communication formally occurs between staff at lower levels. As a result, communication is disjointed.

Through an Enterprise Social Network, we want to accelerate innovation and spread of ideas, break down geographic and time barriers – speeding up communication information flow, and fostering improved collegiality and knowledge sharing. It’s also for increased visibility of our leaders, mostly our Association Chairman and the Executive Committee.

We have seen some really positive results in the first stages of our rollout.