Positive Psychology and Change

There is so much to say and write about Positive Psychology and I was reminded of this yesterday at an inspiring seminar, promoted by the CIPD’s Southampton Branch.  Thank you to them.

So much to think about …

This blog is far less coherent than I would like it to be.  There was so much to think about that, short of reproducing my notes (which would, I am sure infringe the speaker’s IPR), I don’t yet have the perspective to organise my thoughts clearly.

What I do hope, is that it will give you plenty to think about and research – there are far more links than usual!

Positive Psychology at Work

In her seminar, titled Positive Psychology at Work, Sarah Lewis of Appreciating Change presented the work of Kim Cameron and others, who have been investigating how the ideas from the growing field of Positive Psychology apply to organisations; Positive Organizational Scholarship”. Do take a look at the website.

Cameron identifies three characteristics of exceptional organisations, which flourish under what he describes as an “abundance approach”:

  1. Positive Deviance
    – they do not seek to be normal, but to be exceptional.  They don’t chase efficiency or to be okay at what they do – it reminded me of the 2006 Honda advert, which I have used to spur people into change.
  2. Affirmative Bias
    – they create an energising culture that focuses on the strengths of their people.  When our work meets our strengths, we maximise our own satisfaction. (You can find out your “Signature Strengths” at the Authentic Happiness website.
  3. Virtuous Practices
    – they exhibit a systematic set of highly ethical approaches to their dealings with people, and positively reward moral behaviours

Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

Appreciative Inquiry is a well established way of bringing positive psychology into change.  It has a grateful spirit of positivity and seeking out the best of what is and has been.  Sarah linked this very nicely to the idea of “Appreciative Leadership” in which leaders generate positivity through asking and affirming.  Sarah linked the positive psychology qualities to her own take on “Authentic Leadership” – confidence, resilience, ethical behaviour, optimism and more.

In my mind, a lot of the qualities of Appreciative Leadership linked closely to Greenleaf’s ideas of Servant Leadership.  This is a rich vein.

Positive Psychology and Organisational Change

What Sarah showed is that there are now many more ways to bring positive psychology into change work, than AI.  One I want to single out is the link to Martin Seligman’s idea of Signature Strengths.  What she brought home to me is that if we can create change that allows people to use more of their strengths for more of their time at work, we can start to transform people’s experience of work.

More than that, we can also transform the quality of the work they do, the service they provide and their interactions at work.  I know just how frustrated I can become when denied the chance to use my strengths at work.  From now on, I want to incorporate this ambition into everything I do, all the change I help create, and the way I help create that change.

The “so what?”

Get positive, ask more questions, look for the good in what there is, play to your strengths, create opportunities to do likewise.


2 thoughts on “Positive Psychology and Change

  1. Pingback: Positive Psychology and Change « Shift Happens! « Internet Cafe Solution

  2. Pingback: You get the Team you Deserve « Shift Happens!

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