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Positive Minds

positive mindsMost past theories of management have not considered the complexities created within organisations by the fact that people are not machines. Countless large projects or organisational change initiatives have failed because they did not take into account the unpredictable reactions that take place in the human mind. People have thoughts and emotions that are sometimes not logical and often do not seem predictable. They interpret situations in different ways based on their own experiences and understandings. These thoughts and emotions determine behaviour.

This has implications at an individual, leadership and organisational level. At an individual level, each person in the organisation would benefit from learning to understand and manage their own emotions, to build their capacity to respond in a thoughtful way, rather than in reacting in ways that may not be helpful to them or to the organisation.

At a leadership level, Positive Leadership requires good development of abilities to perceive, understand, express, reason with and manage emotions, both within themselves and others. Positive Leadership requires a high level of consciousness of our own and others feelings, and the effect emotions have on decisions, behaviour and performance.

In organisational terms, you need to create the right conditions in the organisation to create positive “balance” inside the brains of the people who make up your organisation. It is only when the “right” conditions exist inside human brains that we become motivated and engaged. These conditions are “positive” conditions that result in “positive” neurochemical activity that produces “positive” evaluations and “positive” behaviours such as discretionary effort.

All too often organisations make assumptions about how to create the “right” conditions to lift performance (such as bonuses, incentives, or threats of punishment). Recent advances in Neuropsychology help us to understand why these efforts so often produce the opposite effect to what was intended. They also show how to encourage resilience and persistence when times are tough, and to protect against despondency and disengagement. It also helps us to understand how easily things can go wrong and the balance “tips” resulting in resistance, distrust and distress. This is when it can seem like you are “battling” to get even simple things done.

It is essential for leaders to understand the basics of how to create the conditions for their people to have “positive minds” and for the organisational environment (physical, cultural and policy environments) to also create and maintain a positive appraisal by their people.