By Dr. Howard Gauthier
Over the past few years many researchers have found a direct positive correlation between a positive organizational climate and a successful team or organization. Seligman & Shulman showed that happy employees sold 37% more and were 31% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. Another study, out of the University of Warwick, found that happy employees were 12% more productive than the average employee, while unhappy employees were 10% less productive.
I bring these statistics up because far too many coaches and leaders forget about the impact a positive environment has on the productivity and success of an organization. Whether it’s a sports team that wants to improve their win-loss record, or a business that wants to increase sales and improve customer relationships, a positive leader can make all the difference. This is how it works. When a leader creates a positive work environment and builds strong relationships, a team chemistry is built that inspires employees to care more about their job and the quality of work they do. In turn, these employees work harder, longer, and care more about their job, their products, and customer relations. The result is more sales in business, more wins in sports, greater productivity, and stronger customer relationships.
I recently had a chance to sit down with business executive Marc Abshire about the effects positivity and negativity have on the success of an organization. Marc is the Executive Director of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce in the state of Washington. He has held some pretty impressive leadership positions in operations within the Air Force and with NATO, and he is a big believer in the power of positivity. Marc shared that many organizations aren’t as effective as they could be because they have what he terms “negative overload”. He went on to explain that negative overload is when an organization’s work environment is negatively toxic. This includes leaders who treat employees poorly; which leads to employees having bad attitudes, gossiping, and negative conversations; which leads to employees not working hard; and this leads to an under-performing and toxic environment. In other words, a negative leader creates a negative and dysfunctional team or organization, which causes an unhealthy work environment where sales, productivity, and customer loyalty suffer.
Positivity is a Choice
So how do you overcome negative overload? The first thing you need to understand is that positivity is a choice and negativity is a bad habit. Researchers have found that approximately 50% of our disposition is determined by our genes. There’s nothing you can do about it. They also found that approximately 10% of who we are is shaped by life events. This leaves approximately 40% of our disposition (being positive or negative) that’s up to us and how we choose to look at life. Researchers have coined this concept as the 50-10-40 rule.
The second thing you need to understand is that negativity is about three times more powerful than positivity. In other words, it takes three positive comments or interactions for every one negative comment/interaction just to be in a neutral state (this is known as the Losada Ratio). Because of this, relationship experts recommend that coaches and leaders should teach and engage their people using a positive-to-negative ratio of at least five positives to every one negative. The key is that you as a leader be intentional and deliberate in your positive communication and building a positive organizational culture.
Five Leadership Strategies
In my book, The Positive Leader, I share five strategies a coach or leader can use in order to build a positive and highly effective team or organization. These five strategies take a commitment and hard work but the payoff is life changing. As a leader, you will be inspiring your people, encouraging them, teaching team, and supporting them. You will have high expectations for your people and you will hold them accountable; but you do this in a positive and supporting manner.
The five leadership strategies that I outline for you include:
• Building a Strong and Positive Organizational Structure
• Pursuing a Positive Purpose
• Cultivating a Positive Climate
• Building High Quality Relationships
• Using Positive Communication
So if you want to improve your team or business, try building your people up. Be like John Wooden and be a teacher – teach your team members how to do a task correctly. Then encourage them, motivate them, and support them. People and organizations are so much more successful when they operate in a positive environment. And when you create this type of work environment, you will be able to overcome the negative overload that is weighing down your team or organization.
About the Author: Howard Gauthier is a Professor of Sports Science at Idaho State University. He teaches leadership and is an expert in positive leadership and positive organizational culture. Dr. Gauthier is the author of several books including his most recent book “The Positive Leader.” You can contact him at howard@ThePositiveLeader.org.
About the Author
Dr. Howard Gauthier is a Professor in the College of Education at Idaho State University where he teaches courses in leadership and management. Dr. Gauthier is the CEO of the Institute for Positive Leadership, and is an author, writer and an active speaker on positive leadership and culture. He is the author of five books, eight e-books, several research articles, and hundreds of blogs . Check out his book, The Positive Leader at www.ThePositiveLeader.org.