Profit from the Positive

Learn how to become an effective leader using the tools of positive psychology.

Have you ever experienced questioning your own leadership? Did you ever experience pushing your team to its full capability, or perhaps wondered about the performance reviews impact on success?

If you are in need for a comprehensive scheme that can assist you perk up your team’s path and become a better leader, then search no more. Profit from the Positive is what you need to help you learn the strategies to achieve success without putting in extra hours, while controlling your emotional states and bad moods, avoiding hiring mistakes, and more.

No need for a budget, expertise, or permission from the higher chair to learn these by the tools that can assist you no matter how small or big your group of people is.

In addition, you’ll learn

  • How happiness can be achieved just by putting a pen in your mouth
  • How a bad mood can be contagious
  • How rating people’s own weirdness saves you lots of money

To improve productivity, plan ahead and try to pick up positive habits.

As a manager, it is expected of you to explore fresh strategies to increase your productivity and your employees’. That said, let us take a look at some few tricks you can consider to do just that.

First, plan first before going for straight to action. This can save you and your employees.

A study by Peter Gollwitz, a psychologist, has back this statement up. In his research, he asked his students to create a paper on how they spent Christmas and have it submitted two days after the holiday. Half of the students were given only such limited time, while the other half had the liberty to make a commitment and decide when and where they will have the report completed.

As a result, 71% of the second group handed the report over in time, while 32% of the first group. This has greatly proven the essence of preparation. Being specific in giving out tasks creates productivity. Instead of saying, ‘Could you hand it in tomorrow?’ change it to “Could you bring that report to the conference room after the 10 a.m. meeting?” This attracts productivity.

Set your own mind to being productive; trick yourself if you have to. If you are facing a tediously long to-do list and you are not in the mood to start them, it is time to trick yourself. On top of those items, list a couple of things you have already accomplished that day; no matter what task it was. Then tick those off. It will create a sudden boost in your mood to continue what you have started that day.

If you aim to have a fruitful day, fix yourself a positive mindset. And along with it, create positive routines and habits, too.

Deborah always checks her work email, which interrupts her work every single time. So, to be more productive, she decided to adapt to a new habit of just checking her email during specific times amounting to a maximum of four times daily. Hence, she gets more time to focus on her work uninterrupted.

When things go wrong, be resilient and learn from your mistakes.

Flexibility is also a key to becoming a great leader. Setbacks and disappointments are often in the way to success, which means resilience is a virtue at this point. Being flexible to sudden adjustments is important.

Some leaders tend to quit when things do not go as planned. A great leader knows how to deal with setbacks and use these as opportunities to be even greater.

If a disappointment occurs, ask yourself these questions;

  • How did it happen?
  • How can we avoid the same mistakes in the future?

Understanding the cause of failure will gain you better experiences in the future. Once you recognize what went wrong, you can come up with a resolution to avoid the same occurrence ever again. Use the Me-Always-Everything Framework.

Me - Assess whether you, an external event, or both caused the failure.

Always - Does this setback always happen to you?

Everything - Will this problem affect the other areas of your life? Or is it an isolated case?

Another secret to being resilient is by changing your perspective on a misfortunate event. If you are having a bad mood, set your mind into a more positive outlook. This is a proven way to avoid more setbacks.

Evaluate the situation and compare it with the previous cases you have successfully overcome. Does it share the same intensity? What is worse? What is the worst that could happen with this dilemma? Is it most likely to happen again?

Start thinking of things with a positive light, and remember that mistakes come and go. But whether you learn from them or not is the main point of experiencing them. If you do not want history to keep repeating itself, learn from your mistake.

Your mood will impact both your own productivity and your team’s performance.

Emotions are catching. Our moods affect not just our attitude but those who surround us as well. Social contagion theory would attest to this statement.

Apparently, humans are conditioned to mimic each other when it comes to facial expressions and moods. The study says one person from a group of five can affect the rest.

Working in a bad mood has a contagious effect. It can spread like a bad cold, which can damage productivity. In the same light, positive mood and outlook can be as contagious. In fact, it has been established that when bank tellers are in a good mood, the more customer satisfaction is generated. This creates a win/win scenario.

But did you know that people in higher chairs tend to be most contagious in an organization? If a leader has a good positive attitude at work then it is more likely for his employees to adapt to this mindset in as little as seven minutes of exposure.

When a study consisting 53 sales managers were in a good mood, their teams were able to achieve better. Sure, we all get in a mood from time to time, but to overcome it is the key.

Let us look at these four different techniques to help you.

  1. Label it - Acknowledging what you feel can minimize negative emotions.
  2. Long deep breaths -Never underestimate the power of slow rhythmic breathing when it comes to relaxation.
  3. Be around nature - A simple walk can help you calm your stress down. But if you can walk in a place with even a little green to create a one-with-nature feel, do so.
  4. Mimic a total different response - You may not feel like it, but smiling despite your negative mood can put your body into a stance that eventually creates a different psychological state.

Feel free to try these techniques with a goal of improving not just your mood but your employees’ as well.

To be a strength-based leader, know what you’re good at and hone in on solutions, not faults.

Now, it is time to become a strength-based leader.

It pays off to focus on the strength of your company when asking these following questions:

  • What makes your employees or even your competitor successful?
  • How can a team constantly exceed expectations?
  • Which area does a specific change apply best?

Managing a team is stressful. A good manager knows that dumping the pressure in solving problems on employees alone is a no-no. When trying to solve a problem together, try to come up not just with long-term possibilities but even with short ones. And another important thing is to know thy strength.

Another study was conducted involving a sales team who was asked to complete a 40-minute strength assessment then a one-on-one discussion regarding the results of the evaluation. 17% of those who finished the assessment were able to generate more sales.

Ask yourself these questions to learn how to uncover your strength:

  • What am I good at?
  • What kind of work energizes me?
  • When am I at my best?

Never ignore problems; focus on solving them.

To avoid hiring mistakes, take your time and don’t undervalue personal skills.

Committing hiring mistakes costs a lot; often five times the salary of the hired employee.

The most important tool you can use to make sure you hire the right people is through the interview.

One thing to remember is to avoid talking too much when you interview. Instead, let the interviewee do the talking. By doing so, you can get a grip on their personal skills above the technical ones. Listen closely to their attitude as they talk and see if they fit your company’s culture or the attitude that the position demands.

Per Google, inspiring, smart, good problem-solver, and creative employees are called Googly. These are the kind of employees that Google knows fit its culture well.

And you cannot know which employees fit yours if you do not understand your own culture.

The Zappos CEO usually asks his applicants this question; “On a scale from one to ten, how weird on you?” Such question allows both parties to know if the applicant fits in.

At Rackspace, prospective employees would stay at the office for nine or ten hours to fully know the company and for it to know them well.

Identifying and cultivating your employees’ strengths will boost productivity.

Do not focus on weakness but on strengths. Make it an everyday task of yours as a leader to connect with them about their strengths. You can do this through team meetings wherein everyone can take the time to know everyone; including strengths. By making this part of the team meeting, colleagues will get to know the strengths and understand the differences of their teammates. This form respect and avoids conflicts.

You can even host a workshop wherein you ask each and everyone’s set of two strengths, and you can discuss with them how you guys can take advantage of those strengths.

Harmonious collaboration can be developed and established once everybody is aware of how to incorporate the skills and strengths they have to perform best with each other. Conflicts in the future can be avoided.

Performance reviews are an opportunity to motivate your team and preview the year ahead.

Reviewing performance can be uncomfortable for both the employees and managers. Use this as a re-energizing opportunity for both parties.

Use the language of strength. Use words the empower words such as ‘achiever strength, hardworking, learner strength, focused, etc.”

Make sure you set specific goals. Do not tell them to just do their best, because without any specific goals, employees tend to slack off.

“You’re an emotional person. I like that side of you. Please write down your worries and feelings about this new project and send them to me by 2 p.m.” This is something you can say to your employees to reach out to their emotions.

You can rely on Gary Latham of University of Toronto for proof. Latham researches about goals through multiple studies revolving different occupations. He found that those who challenge themselves with specific and demanding goals tend to perform better. He says accomplishing such goals and achieving them can incur pride to the achiever. He adds, “Challenging goals facilitate pride in accomplishment”.

Repetition is important, so make sure you review your goals more than once a year. Involve them in reviewing the goals, so they get to be reminded as frequent as possible. Remember, goals are prone to oblivion as well.

Turn review into a preview.

Ask your employees to have a preview—or a vision—of how they see the next meeting a year from now. Ask them to visualize how they envision a successful year. Then ask them to write their preview down.

This way, you get to change the usual boring and awkward performance review into a special, fun, and visionary one.

For a productive meeting, get everyone to participate and pay attention to openers and closers.

It is but every manager’s dream to have his employees look forward to team meetings. Often, this is not the case. Bored and lifeless employees are what welcome a manager in an enclosed room full of tired-looking people. You can change this.


Think of how you open and close the meetings. Do you mimic their mood, or do they mimic yours? As mentioned above, it only takes seven minutes for your people to adapt to your mood. The question is, which mood?

Create the totally opposite of boring meeting. Remember that 91% of the surveyed employees admit to daydreaming when in meetings. So while you do not have any control of their responses and moods, try to influence it with a good opener.

It has been proven that people respond to compliments. Go for acknowledging their specific success, recognizing their accomplishment, or opting for a funny story.

Two sets of doctors were tasked to make a complicated diagnosis for a patient. The first group was asked to read the medical profession’s ethical code first. The next group first received a candy instead. It turns out the second was three times more accurate than the first group.

Even though you have done such great job with your opening, do not neglect how you end it. Remember that people remember the last few minutes of a meeting, too. Make sure you end it with a positive note. Another secret to hosting a productive meeting is to guarantee that everybody contributes. You can try this to gain participation from everyone:

  • You can create a checklist before the meeting starts. But instead of opting for a regular checklist, you can use a piece of paper where you can draw circles and label each with the name of your attendees. You can put a check on the circle when that person participates.
  • Ask for another perspective. When something interrupting arises, you should acknowledge it, and move on.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to use these tools. Simply start small, avoid jargon and expect resistance.

Now, it is time to apply these tools and ideas for effective leadership.

Start small.

You do not need anyone’s approval before you start applying these tools. You can just pick three techniques you can apply first, and go for it.

Another thing you should remember when facilitating a meeting is making use of a common language. Do not use jargons; use what everyone understands. Otherwise, you will be ignored. Use layman’s terms in communicating with your people, most especially when you speak to them regarding their goals.

Make sure the mood you project is always positive when you are in front of your people. If it is not, then time to change it.

And finally, do not respond to resistance negatively. It is very normal to receive this kind of reaction when you try to introduce something foreign to people. This is an expectation that reaches as far from the marketplace as our homes. Thus, take it as a natural response. Expect it, and take it as a sign of change.

Make a brief plan, trick yourself into a quick application, and voila! You are good to go. Best of luck, boss!

Final Summary

As a good leader, learn how to cultivate positive habits. Check emails at only specified times for a specified frequency daily. Be good at controlling emotions, and focus on strengths and solutions. Do not dwell on problems, so you would not give it a stronghold on your mood. Be resilient; be as flexible as you can.

Actionable advice:

Pen a smile—literally.

Grab a pen; gently hold it between your teeth for a couple of minutes. This can induce the brain to think funny things, and it can activate your smile muscles before you face your people. Help yourself to have a positive vibe to be more productive at work.

This trick can help you mitigate bad mood, which often blocks you from your fullest potential as a great leader.