A Leader’s Ongoing Obligation: To Ser
Last week I shared Dr. Mark Taylor’s suggestions for finding and sustaining personal happiness. When Mark (www.taylorprograms.com – amazing presenter!) and I discussed leadership several weeks ago, we agreed that happy leaders are more inclined to bring positivity into the work cultures that they oversee.
Team members who work in positivity-embracing cultures are inclined to enjoy work, to be engaged, to be productive and to spread their own positivity to colleagues. Mark has catalogued several interpersonal behaviors and approaches for creating positive, happiness-conducive and happiness-inducing work environments. See how many you promote in your work space. And thank you again to my friend, Dr. Mark Taylor!
- Radiate leader positivity. Looking and sounding positive are contagious, as is leader negativity. Try to smile and practice carrying a pleasant default expression.
- Offer positive direction. Focus on what people should be doing, not what they should avoid doing. Think about positive “do this” expectations instead of negative “don’t do this” rules. Find and recognize people doing the right things. Talk more about what people are doing right than what people are doing wrong. Correct with care. Recognize that people invest time and energy in what they do, and may take criticism very personally.
- Show recognition. See human beings, not job titles, roles, stereotypes or assumptions. Acknowledge that they are there. Acknowledge them. Offer them your attention and use their names whenever you are able.
- Show respect. Offer everyone the courtesy they deserve, and that we would like for them to show to us. Assume good will; people generally want to help, to be productive and to do the right things. People respond better to being asked than being told. Ask when you can, tell when you must. Ask people how they would like to be contacted and addressed.
- Offer praise. Recognize people for their contributions, whether through their presence or their behavior. The frequency of praise is more important than the intensity. While almost any praise can impact happiness, praise connected to specific behaviors is most effective in supervision.
- Communicate gratitude and appreciation with your thanks. Let people know that you not only see the good that they do (praise) but that you also personally appreciate it. Thanking people can contribute to competence, positivity and the development of meaningful relationships.
- Offer emotional and task support. Help make people’s jobs easier, and endeavor to be seen doing some actual tasks. Provide resources, modify policies, and get in there and help when you are able to.
- Facilitate cooperation. Communicate that cooperation is a fundamental value and that people are expected to try to work together and get along. Happiness is improved when conflict is reduced, and positive relationships are developed when people work cooperatively.
- Offer choices. People are happier in their work when they feel they have some input on what they do and how they do it. Letting people choose also increases their responsibility for task completion, commitment to the task, and autonomy.
- Facilitate appropriate task engagement. Neither boredom nor overwork facilitate happiness. People are happiest when engaged with a manageable number of tasks, hopefully tasks that fit their talents, preferences and abilities. Offering choices can help identify talents, preferences and abilities.
- Show flexibility. Recognizing individual needs and the impact of life circumstances and external events on scheduling, deadlines, appearance and other workplace expectations can enhance positivity, reduce stress and improve retention. Consider making the adjustments and flexibilities adopted during the pandemic permanent.
- Maintain a developmental perspective. People want to learn, grow and improve, and are most happy and engaged with their work when they feel they are developing. Offer appropriate, manageable challenges and novel opportunities to improve performance, engagement and happiness.
- Focus on the mission, meaning and impact of the work. People want their lives to matter and have purpose, and to have made a personal difference in the world. When they can see the effects of their efforts and how those efforts contribute to the larger impact of the organization, they can start to perceive the workplace as a venue for them to achieve purpose and meaning in their own lives. And everyone wants to matter, to make a positive impact and to live a life of purpose.
Please take Mark’s suggestions to heart. As I said last week, we know many, if not all, of these tips intellectually. It is up to each of us to role model these behaviors in our workplaces and to create and sustain positive cultures where our teammates can not only succeed, but can thrive!.