Finding happiness in flux

Finding happiness in flux

As most of us know these days, the only constant is change. The following article from Positive Psychology News Daily, and by my friend Amanda Horne, is written mostly for a corporate or business readership but, I've no doubt that the principals are relevant to all of us. So read on and think about how it might apply to you and in your life…

Leaders and managers often face the task of implementing organizational change, a complex process which is frequently experienced as difficult to get right and which requires sophisticated and flexible management styles. What insights can leaders gain from Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry to help them lead successful change? This question is addressed in two chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work edited by Alex Linley, Susan Harrington, and Nicola Garcea:

Chapter 6: “Change and Its Leadership: The Role of Positive Emotions” by Malcolm Higgs

Chapter 7: “Working Positively Toward Transformative Cooperation” by Leslie Sekerka and Barbara Fredrickson.

These chapters reinforce the idea that leaders can influence the environment in which transformation efforts can succeed. Below are some of the key points from these chapters.

Change Doesn’t Have to be Viewed as a Problem

“Managers are trained to view change as a problem which can be analyzed and solved in a linear or sequential manner.” (Higgs)

“Scientific management-based programs….which tend to employ functional and structural solutions… are unlikely to improve organizational performance over time. In part this is because they are not intended to be transformational, but are reactions to dysfunction.” (Serkera & Fredrickson)

In these quotations, the authors refer to the complexity of change and the limitations of linear processes. However, their main focus is on how leaders influence their own and others’ orientations towards a change initiative. Are they solving a problem, or are they creating transformation? Are they creating fear or enthusiasm? The leader’s mindset is critical.

One View: Resistors are Bad People

For example, leaders might perceive that people are the problem, and resistors to change are bad people to be coerced. Another example is the use of the famous burning platform image popularized by John Kotter. Leaders can also deplete energy by engaging in conversations about change which rest too much on the organization’s limitations, focusing on what’s wrong with its people, systems, and processes. This can lead to a collective sense of “We are not good enough.” Overall, more negativity can be created than is needed to generate the positive energy required for sustained change.

A Shift in Perspective

In helping leaders to create an alternative context and mindset, both chapters suggest that a shift in perspective can be achieved by…

Read Amanda's full and original article here

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