We’ve all been going through so much change over the past 18 months – border closures, social distancing, businesses rapidly adapting to their employees working from home, and now trying to find a balance between work from home and office. It’s hard to find stability in the midst of so much uncertainty.
This is where it can be useful to remember that we all have what’s called a “negativity bias”. This is the way we often pay more attention to information we feel is negative. If we do this a lot, it can become harder and harder to solve complex problems as we get stuck in the fight-flight-freeze response. To rebalance the scales, it can pay to consciously give our attention to things that we feel are good and useful. This is where Positive Psychology comes in. Positive Psychology focuses on our strengths, building on what works. When applied to working with change and uncertainty, it gives us an approach and a set of questions that help us to flourish.
Finding the most useful question is half the battle when trying to solve a problem. “How do we avoid difficulties when introducing a particular change in the business” leads to a very different answer when compared with “How can we draw on our strengths when introducing a particular change.” In my experience, the first question leads us towards negativity, the second towards positivity.
I use a journal to regularly reflect on how I can bring greater positivity to the way I am a CEO, the way I am in my life, and how I initiate change. Taking time at the end of each day for conscious reflection helps me to refine my leadership style, to think through how I want to approach change from a more positive mindset. It also helps to get my thoughts down on the page rather than them circling around in my head just before I go to sleep!
At AccessEAP, we approach change through the lens of Positive Psychology.
- We frame our process of change positively, so we’re aiming towards something we want rather than away from something we don’t want. We underpin this by first reflecting on what our strengths are and checking we are making use of them.
- We are curious about what the future could look like, and then we aim to be clear what success looks like – it helps create a clear path, and we’ll know when we get there!
- We design a way forward and then draw on our strengths to tackle challenges – it helps us feel more confident and engaged.
- Finally, we deliver the change by taking one small step after another - our confidence grows with the success of each small step.
I believe the principles of Positive Psychology have made me a more effective leader. I invite you to try them out or do some deeper investigation if you’re already familiar with them.
Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP