5 Ways to be a Better Leader with Positive Psychology

Conferences, workshops, consultants, coaches – leaders do it all to build their competencies and improve their teams. But why should you spend all this money when the best approach to being a better leader involves easy tactics you can do for free? (Yes, free!)

It’s all about applying best practices from positive psychology, the scientific study of what makes people thrive. If you’re a leader or aspiring leader, these practices could completely change the game for you and your teams!

What is Positive Psychology?

For years, psychology focused largely on dysfunctional and pathological disorders while largely ignoring the research of what conditions might lead to optimal functioning. This realization led to positive psychology. 

Research shows that incorporating positive psychology practices such as optimism, gratitude and acceptance into our daily lives leads to increased self-esteem, improved relationships, and overall positivity. This allows people having greater focus, improved decision-making and more creative thinking. 

Yes, you better believe these are all fundamental qualities of a great leader!

How to Start

Positive psychology starts with building new habits. Here are five easy habits to incorporate into your day to create the positivity needed to improve your leadership skills:

  • Practice mindfulness – Tune into your thoughts in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or fixating on the future. This time in the present reduces stress and burnout, increases focus to make better decisions, and makes you emotionally present for employees. 
    • Take action: Schedule 15 minutes of time to reflect and be mindful a day
  • Show and foster gratitude – Be aware of and thankful for the good things that happen in your life. Then, take the time to express appreciation and return the kindness. This leads to higher self-esteem and empathy in yourself and fosters it in those around you. As a leader, this is critically important for people to feel valued and to create good relationships among team members.
    • Take action: Add a gratitude jar at a common place where there is traffic at work. Encourage people to add notes of appreciation to the jar. Occasionally read aloud during meetings or just on your own to boost positive feelings.
  • Invest in experiences – Over time, satisfaction with possessions decreases, whereas satisfaction with experiences increases. Experiences and events with colleagues or employees that have nothing to do with work boosts moral and positive feelings. These experiences don’t need to be fancy or expensive.
    • Take action: Sometimes just bringing in coffee and donuts, and gather to talk about anything other than work is all that’s needed to make a positive impact. Or try organizing a volunteering event to come together for something outside of work while giving back to others
  • Deepen relationships – A sense of belonging with others around a shared mission or identity is a major contributor to our sense of meaning in life. It’s important to not only get to know employees and team members, but to help them feel like part of the bigger picture.
    • Take action: Better leverage 1×1 meetings with employees to show them you care about them as people. Don’t just ask, “How are you?” These are the most useless three words in business because the person asking doesn’t care and the person answering doesn’t tell the truth. Instead, ask more thoughtful questions to build trust and meaningful relationships. Examples include: Which of your strengths could be used more at work? What energizes you the most about your work? What have you done recently that made you feel proud?
  • Focus on strengths – We all perform better when we engage our strengths use them for a purpose that is greater than our own personal goals. Help your employee focus on and leverage their strengths. 
    • Take action: Use free online tests to uncover strengths (try High5test.com or VIA Institute on Character). Incorporate discussions about your employees’ strengths in 1×1 meetings or performance discussions, specifically related to how strengths can be better leveraged at work to solve problems and improve outcomes.

This November I’ll be digging into these topics further with a Facebook Live Series! Be sure to follow The Brimful Life on Facebook to be notified about these times!

Let's Connect

Beth believes a positive, connected and committed organizational culture is critical to business success. That’s why she combined her 25 years of corporate leadership and management consulting experience with her expertise in diversity and inclusion and positive psychology to launch, The Brimful Life, a consulting firm that works with executives to strengthen their leadership skills and transform their leadership teams and organizational cultures to better support the organization’s vision and strategic goals. In addition, The Brimful Life podcast series, keynote presentations and workshops inspire and equip leaders to put people and culture first.

Beth has lived and worked in London, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Boston and New York City. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia, a MA in International Relations from Tufts University and an MBA from Columbia University.

Beth lives a brimful life by spending time with her husband and three kids and with running, speed skating and watching cooking competition shows on TV which is ironic because she hates to cook.

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