Science Says Positivity Wins


Science Says Positivity Wins

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and he was describing one of his managers as someone who always walked into the office with a rain cloud hanging over their head. Furthermore, we talked about the negative impact this individual’s disposition had on all the people they were managing and how draining and counterproductive it was to the culture of their company and to the morale of their people. In short, that person was zapping the company’s energy and not contributing positively to it.  

That short conversation also made me introspective, for it was at that moment I asked myself what my mindset generally is when I walk into the office, or any room for that matter. It took me back to some of my earliest memories of my childhood and my mother. It turns out, my mom was always sunny and optimistic, and I paid attention to how that made me feel walking into the kitchen before school for breakfast. I felt the value of her positive attitude and, even at that young age, vowed to always present myself to others in this way.  

It turns out, the topic of having a positive attitude, and its impact on leading people and companies, is a real thing that has been studied extensively through the years and found to be one of the secrets to success as a leader. In fact, Martin Seligman, an American psychologist and father of positive psychology, had this to say about the topic: “the power of positive thinking cultivates resilience, enabling leaders to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and persevere in the face of adversity.” I couldn’t agree more! In fact, I might take it a step further. 

Having a positive attitude and thinking positively is a catalyst for building strong and meaningful relationships within a team, across an organization, and just as importantly, across organizations, plural. This issue of Parking Today is focused on collaboration, and it’s been my experience that true collaboration between teammates (or partnering companies), takes flight through positive thinking. As a leader, maintaining a positive attitude creates an environment of trust, respect, and collaboration.  

Barbara Fredrickson, an American professor of psychology, developed a theory of positive emotions that asserted, in part, positive leaders actively listen to their team members, acknowledging their contributions and providing constructive feedback that motivates and empowers. By recognizing and appreciating the strengths and achievements of individuals and teams, leaders foster a sense of belonging, loyalty, and commitment among their team members. To me, these are the fundamental building blocks of a great partnership, and it turns out, we owe much of it to always finding the positives in all we do.  

I would challenge you to think about your teams, or the teams you’ve played on. Why were they successful or why did they fail? When I think back to times I’ve experienced success, positive chemistry between players was the key. As I examined this success more deeply, in preparation for writing this article, I appreciated that every person displayed an unwavering devotion to each other, to the mission and to infectious positivity. Of course, everyone loves a winner, and it’s easy to be positive when riding a winning streak. Invariably, every team hit speed bumps along the path to success, but it was unwavering positivity and hard work that carried us through those slumps or adversity.  

I might go so far as to say positivity was the seed that grew into the fruit of success. Being able to see the bright side of everything, including setbacks, helped keep the team from wallowing in their lack of success, but rather, find something positive to take from the experience and move on. One of my early bosses told me it was ok to visit pity city, but I wasn’t allowed to buy a home. Frank allowed me to lick my wounds, but encouraged me to learn from the experience, get back on the horse, and ride into battle smarter and more determined than ever to win. 

And so, my challenge to you is to examine yourself and your team on the positivity scale. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? What affect is your disposition having on your troops? Leadership is a continuous journey of personal growth and development, and the science clearly points to the power of positive thinking.  

Therefore, if you’re a positive person, keep it up. If not, perhaps it’s time to put that home in Pity City on the market and move across town. The experts all agree, the move will be transformational. I’ll help you pack, if you need a hand, and wish you well on your journey to the bright side! 

Article contributed by:
Brian Wolff
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