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Creating a State of Flow at Work

Working Resources is a Strategic Talent Management and  Executive Coaching Firm Helping Companies Assess, Select, Coach, and Retain Emotionally Intelligent People; Leadership Development; Emotional Intelligence-Based Interviewing and Selection; Multi-Rater 360-Degree Feedback; Competency Modeling; Succession Planning; Career Coaching; Corporate Culture Surveys; Executive Coaching and Leadership Retreats.

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

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Creating a State of Flow at Work

One of my CEO executive coaching clients is working with his executive leadership team to create an organizational culture that unleashes employees’ intrinsic motivation and state of flow. I am coaching him to become more effective at appealing to employees’ intrinsic motivation and core values, and helping leaders at all levels of  the organization become more fully engaged in creating a culture that supports flow.

The CEO knows that for the organization to thrive depends on creating an organizational culture and climate that nourishes constant innovation. Human Resources is partnering with me in supporting senior leaders to motivate people by building authentic relationships. Our current executive coaching and leadership consulting work is also focused on helping leaders throughout the organization increase their ability to motivate team members by tapping into their purpose and values.

The CEO and his senior leadership team members are each heading up two strategic initiatives to energize growth and increase revenues. The goals are clear and tap into each leader’s purpose and desire to be doing meaningful work. In our executive coaching meetings, company leaders are reporting a significant increase in their energy, happiness and business results.

Each senior leader has autonomy over what they’re doing and how they do it, including choosing their time, tasks, team and techniques. They have the opportunity to master their work and make progress through deliberate practice. The executives have a sense of purpose in their work — to something higher and beyond their job, salary and company. They are empowering their direct reports and all company employees with the same opportunities and creative mindset.

Creating Flow

People are most productive and satisfied when their work puts them in a state of “flow” — more commonly recognized as being “in the zone.”In the flow state, one experiences a heightened sense of focus, happiness and joy.

What we know about flow is primarily based on the work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, whose seminal book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, describes it as the moment in which “a person’s body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

You can’t give people the opportunity to create “flow” experiences without providing autonomy, time to practice and improve mastery, and a sense of higher purpose.

“Flow at Work”

In the past few years, many leading companies, including Microsoft, Ericsson, Patagonia, and Toyota have realized that being able to cultivate work environments that nourish “flow” helps create more productive and satisfying work experiences.

These companies are now using Csikszentmihalyi's ideas to learn how they can  best engage their workers and  create more compelling connections with their customers. Without flow, there's no creativity or innovation, says Csikszentmihalyi. "To stay competitive, we have to lead the world in per-person creativity," says Jim Clifton, CEO of the Gallup Organization.

Csikszentmihalyi’s work on “flow” focuses on the positive states, the moments when human beings are at their absolute best. In the flow state, Csikszentmihalyi found, people engage so completely in what they are doing that they lose track of time. People emerge from each flow experience more self-confident, capable, and sensitive.

Csikszentmihalyi believes that flow has several necessary preconditions. These include having clear goals and a reasonable expectation of completing the task at hand. People must also have the ability to concentrate, receive regular feedback on their progress, and actually possess the skills needed for that type of work.

What would happen if some of the best moments of your life happened at work?  What needs to change for that to be possible?

Are you working in a company or law firm where leaders are energizing growth by creating a flow-state work environment? Does your company or law firm provide leadership coaching to help leaders to be more effective at unleashing employees’ intrinsic motivation and drive? During volatile economic times, leaders at all levels need to inspire others to work in a state of flow where they are fully engaged.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I helping to create a work culture and climate that nourishes a state of flow?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching and leadership development for leaders to be more innovative at motivating others.

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 an organizational culture where the ability to motivate people based on purpose autonomy and mastery is a critical competency for leaders. You can become a 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.

I am currently accepting new executive coaching, career coaching, and leadership consulting clients. I work with both individuals and organizations. Call 415-546-1252 or send an inquiry e-mail to

                                         © Copyright 2010 Dr. Maynard Brusman, Working Resources

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Box 471525 San Francisco, California 94147-1525
Tel: 415-546-1252
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