There’s a phenomenon that happens in nature called the “heliotropic effect.” It’s where plants turn toward the light to efficiently absorb the sun’s rays for the product of photosynthesis. What’s fascinating is humans experience this heliotropic effect, too. Studies from groups like the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations and Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education suggest people similarly turn to those who are positive, even in the workplace.
Recent research from these groups showed the outcome of interviews with thousands of leaders and their employees. They found a common characteristic for businesses that performed exceptionally well: they were led by “positive energizers.”
The research showed that positive relational energy, which cultivates strength and resiliency in organizations, is a leadership quality that can take a business to an entirely new level. Not only does the leader experience a high level of performance, but the research shows both the organization and its employees excel by greater numbers. Across the board, the organization is more innovative, has better financial performance, and it offers teamwork and cohesion in the workplace. Employees are also happier on the job, at home, and have a better overall well-being.
If positive energizers have this sort of outcome on their business, you may be asking yourself: “How can I become a more positive leader?”
Here are 4 tips that will help you exude positivity as a leader.
Be authentic about your purpose
For The Jim Allen Group, our purpose always revolves around our clients and their home buying and selling needs. It’s exciting helping a client fulfill their dreams! But if you’re selling widgets, you may need to think a little harder about your company’s overall purpose. Knowing and communicating the “Greater Good” you offer the world will help your team come in excited to work every day. As a leader, it’s critical to talk about the good that comes from your team’s work and efforts, so they’re reminded of the “why” that’s behind what they do. Talk about that why and be willing to recognize those delivering on that purpose.
Trust your team
Trust is critical to any team. Research has shown that people who work for companies that trust them, report being less stressed, more energetic, more engaged, and happier overall. Neuroscientist Paul J. Zak recommends practicing specific behaviors to foster trust. Some of them include:
· Recognize excellence in your team immediately after a goal is achieved.
· Allow employees to execute projects in the way that suits their needs.
· Be open about your goals, strategies, and tactics.
· Allow your team to build social connections with each other.
· Be vulnerable, which will help you build credibility with your team.
In short, your team wants to be treated with respect, and like adults. Treat them this way, and they’ll trust you and want to do great work for the organization.
Put your people first
Make decisions and act by thinking about your people. That includes allowing them to have flexibility and being compassionate and empathetic toward their needs. Research shows that a positive workplace culture includes six essential characteristics, including the following:
· Caring for others and treating colleagues as if they’re friends.
· Being supportive for one another, including being kind and compassionate through a colleague’s struggles.
· Avoiding blame and being forgiving when mistakes happen.
· Creating an environment of inspiration.
· Emphasizing how the work is meaningful.
· Giving each other respect and being gracious and trusting toward coworkers.
These characteristics are a recipe for success. You should always focus on treating your people with the dignity and grace they deserve.
Practice and encourage mindfulness
Research has shown that the practice of mindfulness, which is designed to provide you with awareness of your feelings and sensations in a moment, is beneficial in the workplace. It can help your team focus on helping others and be more generous and kinder. Make mindfulness practice a regular part of your routine to demonstrate its benefits. It will help you feel more at peace while encouraging your team to be open and more accepting of others.
If being a positive energizer doesn’t come naturally to you, try putting it into practice with intention. I believe you’ll notice a big difference within your entire organization.
Jim Allen is a business leader and entrepreneur who has built one of the top-producing real estate groups in the Triangle. He is President of The Jim Allen Group, which is consistently named one of the top real estate teams in North Carolina and even North America.