Last week, coming off from Thanksgiving, I wrote about the importance of being a grateful person. In doing so, I used some wisdom from Shawn Achor’s great book, The Happiness Advantage.

This week I’m continuing along a similar line of thinking using the same book to remind you how important it is not only to count your blessings, but also to appreciate and recognize the good work that the people on your team do.

You may remember from the second session of LEAD 365, where we focus on Feedback, that we gave you a simple formula for providing feedback:

5 positives + 1 negative = strong relationships

Do you remember this? (I know for many of you it was quite some time ago). Do you remember what this formula is intending to communicate?

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor refers to a concept called the Losada line, named after psychologist and business consultant Marcial Losada. Achor writes, “Based on Losada’s extensive mathematical modeling, 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a corporate team successful. This means that it takes about three positive comments, experiences, or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative. Dip below this tipping point, now known as the Losada line, and workplace performance quickly suffers. Rise above it—ideally, the research shows, to a ratio of 6-to-1—and teams produce their very best work.”

Over the past twenty years I have run across this kind of research a few times, hearing that the best ratio is anywhere between 3-to-1 and 7-to-1. Whatever the exact number might be, the idea is simple and clear: If you want a high performing team, you better be giving more positive, reinforcing feedback than the also needed “constructive” or negative feedback.

I assume now you remember what our formula means: 5 positives + 1 negative = strong relationships, and therefore, strong team performance.

So, how are you doing with this balance? Do you fall short on the positive reinforcement? If so, is that because you fail to mention the good behaviors you see in your people, or is it because you don’t even see the good things that people do? Either way, if you’re serious about leading well, you will want to work on this.

Do you provide a lot of positive reinforcement, but fall short on the more difficult negative feedback? If so, is this because you see the less-than-desired behavior but fail to provide the feedback, or is it because you have such an optimistic view of people and the world that you don’t even see it? Either way, if you’re serious about leading well, you will want to work on this.

Many of you will remember one of our stated expectations of you, that after completing LEAD 365 you will be a feedback machine, both giving and receiving feedback well. I am convinced that this is one of the things that will help to propel West Michigan to become the best area in the country for great leadership.

Meredith, Jeff, Gerald, and I will continue to work on this important skill in our own leadership endeavors. We hope and expect that each of you are working on it too.

Thank you for being someone worth following! Lead well this week!


Image by amboo who?. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.