“Offered to the workforce, positive psychology and related experiential practices give employees the tools to self-direct their learning, developing their own happiness and growth. This process can however only operate in parallel to the implementation of people-centered organizational processes and positive leadership.”
Professor Juan Humberto Young, IE Business School
Most schools, companies, families and organizations function on an unwritten rule…“Let’s fix what’s wrong and let the strengths take care of themselves.”
Clifton & Nelson (1992)
The science of psychology originally had three distinct missions: to cure mental illness, make the lives of all people more fulfilling, and to identify and nurture high talent. However, for one hundred years the study of psychology has been mainly focused on healing within a disease model of human functioning, which has led to huge developments in the understanding and therapy of mental illness. The other two goals of psychology, the fulfilled individual and the thriving community, and how these are developed, have however been almost entirely neglected. Founded by the psychologists Martin E.P. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the field of positive psychology is aimed at changing the focus of psychology as a whole from solely the study of pathology, weakness and damage, and fixing what is broken, to the study of strength and virtue, and the nurturing and building of positive qualities .
From positive experiences at the subjective level, through positive personal traits at the individual level, all the way to the group level and institutions that nurture the best in people, be it better citizenship, ethics or extraordinary performance in business, psychology now speaks beyond illness and health, to purpose, insight, growth, education, work and love, and the totality of human experience.
- We believe we can build successful organisations that are also sustainable and socially conscious.
- We believe our workplaces can best profit and thrive by being nurturing environments that promote the personal and professional growth of executives and employees.
- We believe the road to business success is to animate work with purpose, promote autonomy, and facilitate learning, happiness and health.
- We believe the world’s greatest resource is the untapped potential in each and every person, and our purpose is to activate it, one person, team or organisation at a time.
The greatest insight of positive psychology is one of approach: Extraordinary performance is not created by fixing problems, eliminating a weakness does not make for greatness, at best it makes an individual or organisation average, or normal. Excellence can only be achieved through focusing on strengths and seeking to manage rather than eliminate weaknesses.
We live in a time when the full strength of scientific inquiry has been brought to personal and organisational training and development, and when we finally have evidence-based methods to develop individuals, teams and organisations.
THE VALUE PROPOSITION OF POSITIVE LEADERSHIP:
•A thriving company under renewed leadership.
•Increased engagement and commitment to the company through the strengths-based approach to managing the organization, which will allow leaders and their teams to realize their potential more fully.
•A broader scope of strategic orientations emerge, while internal resistance to transformation recedes, bringing new opportunities.
•A competitive advantage difficult to replicate, with its roots in the emerging positive vital core of the company, tangible by its growth, success and vibrancy.
The business world faces unpredictable, fast-paced challenges in the new ‘VUCA reality’, a term introduced by the defence industry in the 1990s to describe a reality characterised by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.
While business challenges are changing, the paradigm for developing managers and leaders has remained the same.
We continue the management approaches of the Industrial Age based on power, authority, standardization, conformance or discipline, which are inadequate to the challenges that lie ahead.
In the Information Age what is needed is innovation and creativity.
However the current model of management was designed around making processes efficient, not people. Yet research shows that human performance drives the bottom line, and that an organization’s processes must be designed around its people. Unfortunately, for too many companies this is not the case.
There are startling findings on employee engagement levels in organisations around the world.
According to the figures from Gallup’s latest workplace study (State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide 2013) 13% of employees are engaged, emotionally invested in and focused on creating value at work, and they are outnumbered 2:1 by those who are actively disengaged, or even negative or hostile to their organisation. Many surveys have shown that within large organisations a significant proportion of employees can be actively looking for a new role outside the organization. Furthermore, other studies have shown that the primary reason that employees resign is connected with their relationship with their immediate supervisor or manager, compared to other factors such as more responsibility or better remuneration. Alongside this low engagement are high levels of workplace stress, with serious implications for both workforce and executives’ physical and mental health.
When less than a quarter of our workforce globally is engaged with their work, and over two thirds suffering from stress at work, it seems clear that something is fundamentally wrong with current management models.
Many leaders and executives, especially post-crisis, are aware of this problem, yet the means to create better work and workplaces, while they can be found in scientific journals, have not yet reached globally into the consciousness of most business leaders. Employees and executives in the Information Age expect much from their workplace and want work to combine with their own personal development. However current management models actively but unknowingly impede creativity, innovation, and engagement, with the result that individuals and teams are not realizing their full potential.
Positive leadership becomes the basic tool that permits a leader to exercise true leadership.
Using evidence based methods from positive psychology, and experiential personal development techniques from far older traditions, positive leadership develops in leaders the inner strength needed to replace formal power structures and take a collaborative, or dialogic, leadership approach that emphasizes autonomy and collective decision-making, and empowers and mobilizes people to perform at their best.