March 2014 | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Shawn Achor, expert on the connection between happiness, productivity, and success; author of the best-selling The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness.
Improve your team’s productivity and success by retraining your brains to capitalize on positivity.
Many people think that success leads to happiness, but actually it’s the other way around. A decade of research in positive psychology and neuroscience has found that happiness is the precursor to success — not the result. Research with corporations has also proven that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement, giving companies a competitive edge in what I call the happiness advantage.
The happiness advantage grows from the fact that “Positivity,” the cultivation of happiness or positive emotions, has a direct causal relationship with the productivity and success of individuals and teams. Positivity includes gratitude and appreciation for others as well as favorable self-regard, and can be fostered both by thoughts and by purposeful activity, such as exercise and use of signature strengths. Its benefits include:
That helps explain why companies like Google, Yahoo!, and Virgin cultivate work environments that help their employees experience positive emotions on a regular basis. As Richard Branson said, “More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.” This isn’t because fun is, well, fun. It’s because fun also leads to bottom-line results.
Even short bursts of positivity have been shown to increase happiness and provide a serious competitive edge. You don’t need to install a foosball table in the employee lounge or let everyone leave early on Fridays to pursue a passion (although those are very good ideas). The five positivity habits described under Action Steps below can induce the same feelings of happiness and provide the same kinds of results.
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools’ Academic Director is John Paul MacDuffie, Wharton Associate Professor of Management, and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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