[I’ll return next week to the series on the things that undermine best-self leadership. But I’ve got to stop for this awesome holiday.]
Instead of a question at the end of RFL, consider this, up front: Who is the most thanks-giving person you know? Whoever that person is I’m confident you would say these things are also true about them:
- Their positivity makes others better.
- People like to be around them.
- They are among the most happy, content or satisfied people you know.
At work and home, “positive feedback” is another name for thanks. And the research just keeps mounting on the power of the positive at home and work. First, Break all the Rules probed reams of Gallup management surveys and concluded that great managers thank each of their people at least once a week for something specific they have done well. As John Gottman, the marriage expert has written, lasting marriages have a 5:1 positive:negative comment ratio. Marcial Losada has done fascinating research on corporate teams and concludes that “flourishing” (as opposed to languishing) occurs only when there is at least a 2.9:1 ratio of positive: negative.
Perhaps you wonder: But are people just born with the tendency to overflow with thanks? Isn’t it all disposition? And certainly we all know the outliers – the people who seem hopelessly if not pathologically negative – and others who just have the rosiest personalities (or lenses). But what of the rest of us? Can we move ourselves up the spectrum and become decidedly more positive? I’m convinced we can.
As I have shared in the past, Kim Cameron in Positive Leadership and his colleagues at the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan have demonstrated that practicing thanks can be both habit-generating and can have transformative effects for you and those you lead and engage with.
Kim is an evangelist for the thanks journal – a practice that is utterly simple and achievable for the most weary among us: At the end of each day, write just three things you’re thankful for. I’m a raving convert, finishing as good a year as I’ve ever had, and giving great credit to the thanks journal for that result.
I’d encourage you to start or restart a thanks journal, and consider giving not just thanks but a thanks journal to someone you care about. Thanksgiving’ s not just many folks’ favorite holiday but it’s also essential to
Lead with your best self!