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How to Be a Positive Leader

Small Actions, Big Impact

By Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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How to Be a Positive Leader by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer

How to Be a Positive Leader examines cutting-edge research from the field of positive organizational behavior, in which companies aim to foster both a positive attitude to work and high performance among employees. The research is complemented with vivid examples from real organizations.

Key idea 1 of 11

Leaders need to encourage energizing interactions among their staff for a more creative organization.

By nature, we humans are social animals: we blossom when we have lots of positive interactions with our friends, family members, colleagues, and so forth. And when we are confident, we’re at our most creative and energetic.

Specifically, we thrive when we have lots of high-quality connections: interactions where both participants’ energy levels are increased. An example of a high-quality connection would be if you’re feeling tired in the morning and have a chat with a colleague about something that energizes you and makes you feel alive – like the football game last night.

Barbara Fredrickson, one of the pioneers of the positive psychology movement, considers high-quality connections a prerequisite for people to grow and thrive both personally and professionally.

For organizations, a creative and energetic staff translates into a real competitive advantage, so companies need to do all they can to foster these interactions.

Research shows that employees with many high-quality connections are more creative and motivated to learn new things, both of which are important for companies trying to come up with innovative schemes.

So how can company leaders encourage high-quality connections between their staff?

There are two main strategies to follow.

First, when interacting with employees, leaders need to demonstrate that they respect and value them. In practice, this means paying close attention to what they say and being positive when they voice their opinions.

One concrete gesture is to turn off your phone and move away from your computer to show that you’re giving the employee your full and complete attention.

Second, leaders can facilitate teamwork and positive interactions by encouraging employees to play more games. This could mean organizing a team-building activity like orienteering, or having equipment like ping-pong tables, chessboards and basketball hoops at your workplace.

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