Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Hippie, a Neuroscientist, and Your Favorite Boss Walk into a Bar…

Guest post from Chris Dyer:

To insert a little fun, my team and I often take three types of people, and imagine what they might have in common, or what they might discuss at a bar. This is a fun way to get people talking, and to loosen up the mood at any meeting. Who would order the drink with a fancy umbrella? Who might get a club soda? Who suggests shots? What on Earth would they talk about? Through my own research, and many conversations with some of the best in leadership, a clear story begins to unfold as we imagine a hippie, a neuroscientist, and a favorite boss.  There is a underlying motto they follow which allows them to succeed in their own lives. They can also specifically teach us something about how to lead our own teams. So, what is this mysterious force binding them together? Positivity!   

In the 1960s, a movement of peace-loving music centric youth began to take hold.  They identified with the idea of love, doing what makes you happy, listening and playing music, and initiating conversation about the war.  As the years have passed, actual hippies seem to have disappeared, but their ideas, clothes, and identity have remained in popular culture. Some people, would-be hippies, have evolved into coaches, inspirational speakers, spiritual leaders, and have filled the HR profession.  On a practical level, these modern day hippies took their approach, observed how people reacted, then led, inspired, and achieved their goals.  Intuitively, they developed truths about the world around us, but lacked an academic study or background to stake their claim,  While they were scorching a new path with love and flower power, the neuroscientists were hard at work to understand the wonders of the brain.  Devising experiments and tests to understand how the brain worked was a start, but they also moved into what makes us happy, how we think, and how can we be effective in communication. Imagine two totally different people, walking parallel paths in a shrouded forest. Neither of them are quite aware of the other.  All of sudden, those paths lean in, and converge into one spot – the bar. They are met there by your favorite boss – you know, the one who believed in you, guided you, inspiring you to grow and spread your wings while simultaneously challenging you to be better.  

As they enter the bar, take a seat, and choose the perfect beverage, it is very clear they all have a deep and wide appreciation for positivity. As the hippie begins to profess love and encourages everyone to always do what makes them happy, the neuroscientist pops in with proven studies and research to back up that claim. As they exchange notes, and realize they have arrived at the same intellectual place while walking different paths (observation versus experiment), your favorite boss, beaming, decides to interject with affirmation. It is all true, and positivity begins as a frame of mind. But, it also takes practical approaches and training to get it right. This is where we can turn to the Appreciative Leadership movement that has taken hold in the past decade. If you have a strong desire to learn more about positivity, that is a great place to start. For those of you who want practical tips on how you can insert this concept today, here are a few of my favorite ways:

1. Remove the word “Problem” from your vocabulary.  The best leaders, organizations, and employees look at every situation as an opportunity.  For example, your best client calls in screaming that something went wrong.  Do you go looking for the “problem?”  Does your team gather together for the ultimate “problem solving” session?  With the courage to be positive, we should instead ask, “Where is the opportunity here?”  We must look for the opportunity to improve and work to ensure we upgrade our process so no other client has the same experience. It can also be an opportunity to show our best client that we listen, and that we will make changes to improve their experience. The shift is simple, but the results are often elegant.  

2. Replace “No”, with “Yes.” This concept is not new, and even stolen from improv comedy, books, and Hollywood movies. Imagine what your day would look like, if you said “Yes” to everything. Terrified? Don’t worry, there are a few strategies to help you navigate this new world. Try using “Yes, and...” as well as “Yes, but…” It works with everything. It also changes the perceptions of those around you. Instead of a blocker, you are a facilitator. Instead of boss, you are now a mentor. It also works wonders with teenagers. “Can I borrow the car?”  “Yes, but only after your homework is done.”

3. Positive dissonance will turn any situation upside down. This is the concept of looking at any event, and discovering what is working well. If one out of ten new leads sign up, should we focus on why the nine don’t, or why the one does?  Positive Dissonance tells us to focus on why the one liked us, and go deeper into understanding so that we can sign up more leads the next time.  That doesn’t mean we ignore the nine, but the focus should be first on why we succeeded with the one out of ten. This simple change in focus to what is good, right, and positive will have a lasting and measured impact on you, your team, and your organization.  

Now, go out into the world and give one or more of these strategies a try.  You won’t become a hippie or neuroscientist, but maybe you will be someone’s favorite boss by providing them the environment to succeed and do their best work.  Remember to do what you love, and show the world how talented you can be today!

Chris Dyer, author of The Power Of Company Culture: How Any Business Can Build A Culture That Improves Productivity, Performance And Profits, is the Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a background check and intelligence firm based in California. He is the host of TalentTalk on OC Talk Radio and iHeartRadio, an in-demand speaker on company culture, remote workforces, and employee engagement, and a frequent contributor to ForbesInc.HR.com, the Society for Human Resource Management, and many more. For more information, please visit www.CulturedCEO.com.

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