Unit 6: Page 1
The last five units have focused on you, the leader. The next four units are focused on helping you create more Positive Deviance in your workplace with your team. Your job as a Positive Energizer is to cultivate positive emotion and to continually expand the capacity of your organization to experience it.
As a consultant for more than 25 years, I’ve interviewed maybe a thousand employees or more. Sadly, the sentence I’ve heard repeated the most while interviewing clients in sales, service, and even leadership positions is this one, “Why is it they never notice when I’m doing things right, but when I do something wrong they are all over me?”
I’m out to eradicate this behavior in business and I’m counting on you to help.
When others are in the presence of a Positive Energizer they feel invigorated, uplifted, and have more energy to do their work. They also have increased vitality and more stamina to get the job done.
Stop reading for a moment and remember a time in your life when you felt uplifted. It could be when someone really understood you, really saw the best in you, or perhaps a time when you felt supported or a time you supported another. Connect with that uplifted feeling. Stay in that place of positive feeling for 25 seconds or more. That’s the feeling most people long for.
As time goes on and your practice of Positive Leadership strengthens you will begin to see and feel this energy in your organization. Your employees will then begin to feel more satisfaction with their jobs, more engagement with their work, and even have higher levels of personal and family well-being. That positive cycle then sends them off to work the next day in a positive emotion which when perpetuated increases their performance as well as their resilience and confidence.
This is a cycle that is a documented effect of a positive culture. Emotions are contagious. I like to make sure the ones I am spreading are ones that uplift and inspire people. Admiration, affection, and appreciation help people feel good about themselves and that good feeling signals their bodies to begin producing the “Chemicals of Calm.” (Book reference)
Remember, these are the chemicals that turn on the Parasympathetic (PNS) Nervous System and activate your innate healing powers – giving your body the opportunity to restore and replenish. In a sense, as leaders, we are alchemists.
As a leader, you can be the creator of happiness and positive emotion and watch good things happen to others – like better health, more creativity, and more self-efficacy. You can do the same for yourself. In striving toward my goal of helping others become happier, I’ve become happier myself!
What you know by now is that you, as a leader, have an enormous impact on your staff, your customers, your communities, and the families of those who work with you. You can count on at least three degrees of connection when your positive energy ripples out from you to others!
In this unit and in the next three units, you’ll be looking at a variety of strategies you can use to amplify the amount of positive energy you create for your team.
We’ll start here with Energize Positive Meaning and then move onto Energize Positive Climate, Positive Relationships, and Positive Communication.
Unit 6: Page 2
Unit 6: Page 3
In unit five I encouraged you to discover what you wanted to be famous for and in this unit I’m going to have you focus on the “Why.” When you tap into your personal and business “Why” you tap into a power source that will keep you going even in tough times.
People long to connect with a sense of purpose – it fuels them and motivates them to work toward their goals. Most companies have vision but many haven’t truly tapped into their purpose yet. Purpose is at the heart of a business, it’s what gives your business heart and meaning and gives your people a deep sense of heartfelt connection. Purpose creates loyalty and a willingness to go a little further, try a little harder and maybe even work a little longer.
Discretionary effort – which I think customers can feel – is unleashed when people connect to and are united by a shared purpose. Tapping into real meaning is powerful because it touches us at our core and gives us the courage we need to keep growing and contributing.
When leaders help support and share that purposeful mindset, motivation is not an issue. If in your presence, people are reminded that they are living out their values, creating value, and making the world a better place, they will motivate themselves.
Here are four things you can do to energize positive meaning:
1. Dive deep, stretch high and create a BIG WHY
Are you selling vision and dental insurance or are you helping America see clearly and stay healthy? Are you keeping your community clean or are you, caring for communities by keeping the community safe and the planet clean? Are you in the grocery business serving people, or in the people business selling groceries? Do you manage a radiology practice to make it easier for the doctor – or do you give patients the clarity they need to make big decisions in their lives? Do you sell cosmetics or make people feel beautiful about themselves?
I love the story of America’s first supermarket in Queens, Long Island, NY where I grew up. In 1930, Mike Cullen, an employee of Kroger Foods, came up with a revolutionary idea. He thought that if Kroger was able to cut back a little on the store services, like delivering groceries and offering credit, they could dramatically cut prices to the consumer as well as increase sales and profit.
Mr. Kroger didn’t seem interested in this idea, but Mike believed in it so much that he took his life savings and opened up the first real “super” market, King Kullen, with one clear purpose, “To become the world’s greatest pricewrecker!” They upended the entire grocery industry as every employee worked to find more ways to wreck prices. That may not feel like a noble goal, but it really helped bring food prices down for consumers in Queens, Long Island. Big Whys are powerful.
The people at Chevron Lubricants don’t think of themselves as a lubricant maker. They believe they, “make the stuff that makes the whole world run.” This is true. Without lubricants, every piece of equipment in the world would eventually stop. They take their jobs seriously and want their team to be proud to spend their lives making sure the mechanical world can keep running.
As every person on your team begins to understand how and where their work has impact, you can help them focus their attention on what they can do to feel good about that impact. When you can help your people see the noblest intent of their work it elevates the work experience. When you fan the fires of positivity around that experience, you’ll keep it alive and growing. That’s one of your main functions as a Positive Energizer – to keep the fire of positivity burning. Work with your team to create your company’s or department’s purpose statement. If you already have one, challenge it to see if it’s still true. Keep your purpose statement memorable which means between six and 10 words if possible – let it describe the noble purpose of what your organization does. Make sure it’s something people can believe in and can remember. When I finally got to the bottom of what I do, I realized that I help people understand how they can create more positivity in the workplace so they can bring more of the “good stuff” home to the people, pets, and hobbies they love.
As every person on your team begins to understand how and where their work has impact, you can help them focus their attention on what they can do to feel good about that impact. When you can help your people see the noblest intent of their work it elevates the work experience. When you fan the fires of positivity around that experience, you’ll keep it alive and growing. That’s one of your main functions as a Positive Energizer – to keep the fire of positivity burning.
Work with your team to create your company’s or department’s purpose statement. If you already have one, challenge it to see if it’s still true. Keep your purpose statement memorable which means between six and 10 words if possible – let it describe the noble purpose of what your organization does. Make sure it’s something people can believe in and can remember. When I finally got to the bottom of what I do, I realized that I help people understand how they can create more positivity in the workplace so they can bring more of the “good stuff” home to the people, pets, and hobbies they love.
2. Bring the customers (and the beneficiaries of your generosity) to life
Fueling the fire of purpose is easy when you enlist your customers’ support. Make sure everyone knows the customers’ story and understands the role they play in making that customers’ experience the most positive one possible.
Studies show that people who have direct contact with the recipients of their work have significantly greater productivity in routine tasks. They produce more than one and a half times the output of those who did not have contact with beneficiaries. *Kim Cameron in “Positive Leadership.”
3. Communicate purpose with stories
You can’t really change a culture until you change the conversation. Changing the conversation is communicated best through stories.
I will often incorporate a company’s values into my in-person Positive Leader workshops. I do this by first, separating the company into groups. Then, each group is given a company value.
Each person in that group tells a story about how they saw that particular value lived out in an everyday work situation. The group then decides which story demonstrates that value, in action, best. In many workshops, the stories have caused people to tear up and even cry.
When you go into your staff meetings be sure to have a story of how you saw a value demonstrated and ask others to share their stories. Purpose and values come alive through stories and pictures!
4. Interpret circumstances in a positive light and frame them with hope
My former boss was very good at this. As we approached a recession back in the late ’80s he called an all-hands-on-deck meeting one day. He stood on a platform in the front of the cafeteria – we were about 600 strong by that time – and he started by saying, “I hear there’s going to be a recession out there. I’m here to tell you we are not participating in it.”
He proceeded to lay out a strategy that would accelerate our plans to start a new publication and refocused everyone on creation. Sure the budgets were tight but an optimistic buzz permeated the place for a long time while we birthed a new product!
What circumstance in your business can use a little re-framing? How can you make the story of your business better, different, or more energizing? What do you tell yourself about the business? Have you connected to purpose? Now that you’ve done a lot of your inner work, how will you share that process with others?
“When work is done with commitment and caring, purpose, and passion, the best parts of ourselves are summoned forth and the inner light of being show through our actions.” – Justine & Michael Toms
Unit 6: Page 4
Recall a time when you were part of something great – a great team, company, club, cause, etc. – where there was higher meaning present? What or who inspired you, and how?
What gave the “work” meaning? Jot down some important points.
Then, take a “Time In” and sit quietly for 15 to 20 minutes and write about what work would look and feel like if all your aspirations about it came true. Then, begin writing a plan to pursue these aspirations.
Ask your employees to do the same. Then help them build development plans to pursue their dreams.
Here’s what one of my workshop groups told me: pride, accomplishment, achieving goals, productivity, helping others, seeing growth, seeing improvement, celebrating improvement, having the right people in the right places, celebrating people and customers, building relationships, learning, being challenged, setting goals, really understanding what’s expected of you, seeing the big picture, knowing where you fit in, guidance, and appreciation.
“The fundamental task of leaders, we argue, is to prime good feelings in those they lead. In its root then, the primary job of a leader is emotional. Great leadership works through emotion.”-Daniel Goleman, Primal Leadership
Once you discover what your purpose is and what your organization or department’s purpose is, set some intentions around it.
For instance: I intend to write about my purpose and how it shows up in my work for five minutes a day.
I intend to pay close attention to how often I help connect others to their highest purpose.
You can have fun with this one. I love having a BIG purpose! For example, I’m going to make parents nicer to be with when they come home from work.
I intend to: Answer Field
Unit 6: Page 5