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Positivity and High Performance - Characteristics of High-Performing Business Teams

High-Performing Business Teams

Enlightened leaders over the past two years became aware of the need for resilience, and restructuring their organizations for a period of survival and stabilization. Now leaders must rebound and take the next steps for a sustainable future. They must refocus, inspire and innovate to lead successfully and grow their business.

I was recently working with one of my San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching clients – the president of a professional services firm. We talked about how a couple of members of his leadership were hyper-focused on cost-cutting. They accused the president of being too optimistic. They even advocated cutting out purchasing San Francisco Giants baseball tickets further demoralizing the firm’s employees.

My executive coaching client and I discussed how with the help of HR firm leaders at all levels could create a more positive work environment. I am coaching my client on to help firm leaders become more positive, and shift the way people think and act to create a more positive culture.

Positivity and High Performance

For years, organizational psychologist Marcial Losada, PhD, studied the characteristics of high-performing business teams. As part of his work, he designed a meeting room to capture the real-time behavior of business teams in action.

The room resembled any ordinary boardroom, but it was fitted with one-way mirrors and video cameras that allowed research assistants to record every statement during company teams’ hour-long meetings.

In particular, Dr. Losada tracked whether individuals’ statements were:

1. Positive or negative

2. Self- or other-focused

3. Based on inquiry (asking questions) or advocacy (defending a point of view)

By the mid-’90s, 60 different teams had been observed and coded. At the same time, each team’s performance level was identified based on independent data. Twenty-five percent met the criteria for high performance based on three distinct indicators:

1. Profitability

2. Customer satisfaction ratings

3. Evaluations by superiors, peers and subordinates

About 30 percent scored low on all three factors. The rest had mixed profiles. Dr. Losada also rated team behavior on connectivity (how well tuned or responsive members were to one another).

When he later divided the teams into high, low and mixed performance levels, striking differences emerged. High-performance teams stood out by their unusually high positivity-to-negativity ratios: about 6:1. Mixed-performance teams scored ratios of 2:1, while low-performing teams scored 1:1.

High-performing teams also had higher connectivity ratings and an interesting balance on other dimensions. Members asked questions as much as they defended their own views, and they cast their attention outward as much as inward.

Low-performing teams, however, had far lower connectivity, asked almost no questions and showed almost no outward focus.

The positivity/negativity ratio has been found to be a critical parameter in ascertaining what kinds of dynamics are possible for business teams. It is measured by counting the instances of positive feedback (e.g., “that is a good idea”) vs. negative feedback (e.g., “this is not what I expected; I am disappointed”).

Dr. Losada’s findings can be summarized as follows: If a team is highly connected, its members will tend to maintain an equilibrium between internal and external focus, as well as between inquiry and advocacy. They will also maintain a positivity/negativity ratio above 3:1.

If connectivity is low, the team will be more internally focused, it will advocate strongly, and its positivity/negativity ratio will be below 3:1.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for team leaders to become more positive? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more positive culture.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Can coaching our business teams to become more positive help our company achieve improved performance?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their peak performance leadership development program.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create a culture where all employees are more positive and fully engaged. You can becomea leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

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