A few years ago, I joined a meeting of senior executives to discuss the way forward on a multi-billion-dollar government funding initiative. Pressure to deliver on a major change agenda was palpable. Stakes were high. The room’s energy felt dense. Very dense.
The Senior Vice President who was presiding over our meeting came in and sat down at one end of the huge boardroom table. I could sense that the individuals in the room were ready to fight to obtain every bit of funding they could get for their separate proposals.
Then, a series of acts of pure leadership resonance unfolded.
This Senior Vice President started to make us laugh, nonstop, by really showing up as a person. He did so by taking the time to build meaningful connections between people. He introduced everyone in the room with colorful humour. He conveyed funny stories. And he facilitated our meeting through laughter, amplifying people’s input and allowing everyone to jump in and comment freely.
The energy in the room was expansive and juicy. The laughter, mixed with great actionable insights, created amazing alignment among the senior executives. Far from feeling like a fierce competition, this meeting felt like real, tangible collaboration and collegiality. We were pulling together as a team. A spirit of camaraderie and fun flourished.
Positive Practices Predict Performance
How did one senior leader effect such a dramatic change in such a short timeframe? He did it by amplifying positive emotions, including respect, integrity, care, gratitude and appreciation. For years now, research into positive attitudes within organizations has documented that positive practices predict organizational and team performance.
Positive energy, when amplified, can massively and quickly shift people’s negative emotional states into positive ones. [Click To Tweet]
In this example, one senior executive’s use of laughter, appreciation and gratitude instantly led to improved individual and team performance, noticeable in both stronger interpersonal relationships and clearer decision-making.
You can do the same in your organization. When others are moving through dense and sluggish energies at work, such as frustration, anger and anxiety, you can help to shift that negative energy. To do so, you can:
- Be fully present. Stop whatever else you are doing and connect with people.
- Acknowledge how people are showing up, without judging.
- Express positive emotions. For instance, you can show respect, care and appreciation by inquiring into the cause of people’s negative energy states.
- Amplify positive energy by asking empowering questions from a space of openness, collaboration, curiosity, playfulness or whatever positive energy states come naturally for you.
When you are being fully present, acknowledging people and amplifying positive emotions, you are generating real forward momentum. [Click to Tweet]
While at first it may feel as if you are intentionally slowing down, these four steps will enable you — and your teams and organization — to pick up incredible speed. These actions create and nurture a space in which positive energy, positive relationships and positive results can flourish.