I went to the Work Human Conference in Orlando last year and saw Michelle Gielan speak on “Broadcasting Happiness.” She is a terrific speaker and I was inspired to buy her book of the same title. I finally got around to reading (er…listening to the book via Audible) this past month. It is an inspiring piece of work, which I defy you to read and have it not impact your life. Yes, it is that good.
Gielan’s premise is that positivity at work and at home inspires a higher level of performance and creativity. Part of the reason is that humans seek to mirror others. So, if Negative Nancy is leading the meeting, it has negative results because everyone follows Negative Nancy in kind. On the other hand, if you–yes, you—make one small positive gesture like a power lead, it has a ripple effect that everyone else wants to mirror. A power lead is similar to being a coach or a broadcaster on the news. Instead of leading with bad news, lead with something positive. That is real impactful power.
So here are the 5 ways you can use a Power Lead to spark others:
1. Names. For the last year, I have been trying to start emails, even ones from my phone with the person’s name. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” I also try hard to remember people’s names when they are introduced to me. I’m not always 100% correct, but I am making a much bigger effort. I also try, when possible, to have people write up name tags or badges at public events. It makes it easier for folks to know each other’s names and use them. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you go shopping for a car, or someone is cold calling you, that they use your name several times. There is a reason–it’s the most important way to connect with someone. Be sure to take the time to type or remember their name and use it.
2. Greetings. Take the time to have a positive greeting, even if it’s just once a day with one person. A simple “Good Morning” or “Wow that’s a pretty necklace.” When you start looking for something positive to say in your first greeting of the day, it inspires others to do the same. It’s hard for your co-workers’ energy to be down when your energy is up. It may not turn them into Betty White after a Snickers bar, but it will not do any harm. As Geilan says in her book, “It can be addictive.” Imagine being addicted to positive greetings. You will be lighting a spark throughout your entire organization. Lead with a positive greeting.
3. How are you? How many times do you respond to this with “OK” or “Ugh, I have a headache” or “My alarm didn’t go off this morning.” When you read that, how do you feel? More negative? I thought so. You are mirroring what you are reading. So think about being a mirror and respond in a more positive light. “I’m great.” “My team won and is going to the Super Bowl.” “Isn’t the weather beautiful outside?” There may be something wrong at home and maybe you forgot to eat breakfast, but there’s no need to broadcast that information. Look for the positive when you respond to that simple question.
4. Catch them doing something right. Ken Blanchard said, “Catch them doing something right.” As a baby boomer leader, we were taught to constantly look for ways to correct folks. It’s much more inspiring to catch them doing something right. I love Gielan’s example of her first boss. At my first job out of college, my boss would ask me right off the bat, in a caring but serious tone, “What is one awesome thing you did—no matter how small—at work in the last week?” Gielan started with something simple and said things like, “I showed up for work.” Eventually, she became more aware of her accomplishments. In the end, it primed her to look for things that went right during the week. This helped fuel her work and will help fuel your direct reports as well.
5. Reciprocate. When you find other nuggets of positivity in your workplace, make sure you reciprocate in kind. This is how it starts to transform a workplace. Places like Nationwide Insurance were able to triple (yes, triple revenues) by implementing happiness research programs. Find those folks who are positive and have a can-do attitude fuel their fire, as well as your fire. Reciprocate positivity and happiness throughout your organization.
As I wrote in my free eBook, “102 Itzy Bitzy Habits“, you should try just one little practice each day. Try it on for size for several weeks until it becomes a habit. It might be making sure you use someone’s name or catching one person doing something right. Just bite off one little piece every day and the progress will spur you on to try more. To summarize Geilan, people who share positivity are paid higher wages, seen as more attractive and become more successful overall. Take that first bite today!