Pygmalion and the Leadership Value Chain

I´m still tremendously inspired by my time at the Ross School of Business in December 2017. Today, I´d like to share with you one of the teachings of Professor Bob Quinn (I´ve posted about his fabulous book Lift before). At one point during the training, Bob introduced us to what he calls the Leadership Value Chain. It´s a model of how (top) management´s mindsets, belief systems and values influence their behavior, which in turn influences organizational values and climate, which ultimately shape peoples´ engagement, and, at the end (and beginning) of the day, their behavior:

Leader Value Chain | Robert Quinn | Mappalicious

One of the framework´s assumptions is that change at higher levels can be blocked or at least diluted by stagnation at the deeper levels. Thus, any (hierarchical) organization will fundamentally change if, and only if there´s a change at the level of leadership values and behaviors.

This got me thinking again about self-fulfilling prophecies and the Pygmalion Effect, whereby performance (e.g., of employees and students) can be positively influenced by the expectations of others. It does make a difference if leaders believe their people:

When leaders´ mindsets are shaped by the ideas on the left, they will act accordingly. When they adhere to the conceptions on the right, they will also act accordingly. Yet, the results will be different.

The left side will lead to optimistic, trusting and, thus, empowering leadership behavior, the right side to pessimistic, mistrusting and thus, controlling leadership behavior. People will adjust accordingly, either by being engaged, inquisitive, and entrepreneurial – or disengaged, unwilling to learn, and small-minded. This, in turn, will fortify their leaders´idea of men, either way. Thus, the self-fulfilling prophecy is fulfilled.

Now, here´s a funny thing about the Pygmalion Effect: Research has demonstrated it can (by and large) not be faked. Either you believe “people are good” – or you don´t. You cannot “believe that you believe”. Which leaves us with the following conclusion:

If you want people to change for the better, you better become a better version of yourself first.

Feedback on Optimal Human Functioning: The Reflected Best Self Exercise™

Nico Rose | Jane Dutton

Nico & Jane Dutton at Ross School of Business

In mid-December, I got to spend a week in Ann Arbor at the Ross School of Business, taking part in an open enrollment course called The Positive Leader: Deep Change and Organizational Transformation. It´s a formidable tour de force through the most important frameworks and applications of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS). I´m going to write some more about my experiences over the upcoming weeks.

Today, I´d like to share with you the Reflected Best Self Exercise™, a powerful tool that helps people to learn more about their individual strengths and what they´re like when they display some form of peak performance (from the vantage point of other people). In short, the exercise is about asking a group of people to supply you with stories of times when they perceived you to be at your best. In other words, you ask people for feedback about your strengths and capacity for peak performance – and only about that.

What other people appreciate about us tends to appreciate over time.

What´s so special about receiving only positive feedback once in a while? It´s extraordinary because we typicially hear mixed messages, e.g., as part of a performance appraisal at work. What´s the point? Rick Hanson, author of “Hardwiring Happiness”, likes to say “our mind has velcro tapes for negative and teflon layers for positive information.” Even if the usual feedback we receive is mostly positive, our brain drives us to ponder almost exclusivley on the negative (= potentially harmful) information. This mode of processing has actually helped us to survive as a species over thousands of years (please see Bad is Stronger than Good for more background) – but it also keeps us from truly taking in any positive information, unless we explicitly allow ourselves to focus on that side of the spectrum, so we can learn and grow based on who we are when we´re at our best.

Learning from what´s already (more than) good

How are we supposed to improve and grow when we´re not focusing on our weaknesses? As the saying goes, “where attention goes, energy flows” (and results show). Learning about who we are when we are at our best helps us to:

The last bullet point seems especially important to me as it points towards the so-called Pygmalion Effect, the phenomenon whereby higher expectations by others lead to an increase in actual performance. When we ask people to reflect on our positive sides, we actually help them to perceive what Jane Dutton calls the “zone of possibility”, a reservoir of untapped resources and growth potential. Via authentically pointing us towards these strengths and capabilities, they help us to become more than we currently are. This is the true nature of appreciation. The typical connotation of “to appreciate” points towards a strong form of liking. But it also means to grow in value. What other people appreciate about us tends to appreciate over time.

Reflected Best Self - Nico Rose

How does the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ work?

  1. Collect stories from a variety of people inside and outside of your work. You should receive feedback from at least 10 people. By gathering input from a variety of sources, such as family members, past and present colleagues, friends, teachers etc., you can develop a broader understanding of yourself. Specifically, ask them to supply you with short stories of episodes when they perceived you to “be at your best”. Ask for specific and tangible examples, not general impressions.
  2. Recognize patterns and common themes: After gathering those stories, read through them carefully, allowing yourself to take and savor in the positive content. Then, go through them several times, making mark-ups and remarks with a pen. The goal is to search for common themes and recurring patterns within the different stories. These commonalities will serve as the base for your “Best Self Description”.
  3. Then, write a description of yourself that summarizes and distills the accumulated information. The description should weave themes from the feedback into a concise “medley” of who you are at your best. This portrait is not meant to be a complete psychological profile. Rather, it should be an illuminating image you can use as a reminder of your contributions and as a guide for future action (you can see the result of my own process in the picture on the right).
  4. Redesign your job (optional): Now that you you have crafted your “Best Self Description”, what are you supposed to with it? To start, it´s a very good idea to hang a print-out in some corner of your office so as to have an easily accessible reminder of you can be, for those times when things become stressful (and they always do in large organizations). This will help you to keep your composure and look beyond the constraints of the current situation. In the long run, it´s definitely useful to think about the larger implications of your best self:
    • To what extent is your current job playing to your strengths?
    • Can you change your current task and responsibilities so as to better reflect your best self? (please see: Job Crafting)
    • Or should you maybe think about a change of careers to realize your full potential?

I hope you will have tons of fun and insightful moments with this framework; I surely did. By the way, I´ve found out earlier this also works perfectly using social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can read my account of this “experiment” here.

Resources

You can find a full description of the Reflected Best Self Exercise™, its application, and the underlying research via these articles:

You´ll find lots of resources with regard to the Reflected Best Self Exercise™ on the website of the the Center for Positive Organizations at Ross School of Business.

The Center for Positive Organizations at University of Michigan: a Book List

Kim Cameron | Nico RoseI´m the luckiest guy in the world. I get to spend the week at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, more precisely: the Ross of Business. Part of the Ross School is the Center for Positive Organizations – which without exaggeration can be described as the global focal point for research and application(s) of Positive Psychology in business (Positive Organizational Scholarship). It´s home to POS luminaries such as Kim Cameron, Jane Dutton, and Robert Quinn. Additionally, some of the big shots in the field have completed their Ph.D. studies here, among them Adam Grant and Amy Wrzesniewski.

I´m going to provide an overview of what I´ve learned here at a later point in time. For today, I´d like to provide a book list of works that been crafted by faculty of  the Center for Positive Organizations. After is, Christmas is coming up soon – and you might still be looking for something for your loved ones (or yourself)…

Also, watch out for Wayne Bakers upcoming book “Just Ask”…

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 04/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

Scientific American: Power of a Meaningful Life by Gareth Cook


New York Magazine: What Makes Your Life Meaningful? by Melissa Dahl & Allyson Young


Times HigherEd: Happiness expert advises UK’s first ‘positive university’ by Jack Grove


Center for Positive Organizations: Soft Skills Training Boosts Productivity by Greta Guest


BBC: How to be wiser by Claudia Hammond


Guardian: Quick steps to mindfulness: the running Treatment by William Pullen


The Positive Organization: Living on the Upward Spiral by Robert Quinn


The Federalist: These New Yorkers Rediscovered Meaning By Serving Their Neighbors by Emily Esfahani Smith


The Economist: Walk in your own shoes: The case for compassion, not empathy, no author


Science Daily: Where belief in free will is linked to happiness, no author

Positive Psychology News Digest | October – December 2016

mappalicious_news_oct_dec_17My favorite pieces covering Positive Psychology and adjacent from the last three months.

New York Magazine: Success Depends on Your Personality More Than IQ by Drake Baer


New York Magazine: The 4 ‘Spaces’ Cities Need to Make People Happier by Drake Baer


New York Magazine: What Good Is Hope? by Drake Baer


Positive Prescription: Looking for Purpose? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions by Samantha Boardman


Huffington Post: Helping others is the key to longevity, study finds by Carolyn Gregoire


Greater Good Science Center: What Will the Theme of Your Life Be in 2017? by Kira Newman


New York Magazine: To Feel More Productive, Take a Break to Do Something Selfless by Cari Romm


New York Magazine: In 2017, Pursue Meaning Instead of Happiness by Esfahani Smith & Jennifer Aaker


Psychology Today: Applying Psychological Science to Meet Your Goals by Erlanger Turner


CNN: How to become more optimistic, no author


Bakadesuyo: Stoicism Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Mentally Strong by Eric Barker


Guardian: Why time management is ruining our lives by Oliver Burkeman


Scientific American: One Skeptical Scientist’s Mindfulness Journey by Scott Barry Kaufman


New York Times: What the West Can Learn From Japan About the Cultural Value of Work by John Lanchester


Psychology Today: Why Wellbeing Is Harder Than It Looks by Michelle McQuaid (Interview with Peggy Kern)


Gallup: The Damage Inflicted by Poor Managers by Marco Nink & Jennifer Robison


Big Think: Compassion Is Weaved Throughout Our Nervous System, Researchers Have Found by Philip Perry


Fast Company: Try This Exercise In Radical Empathy To Minimize Conflict by Elisabeth Segran


CCARE: A Compassionate Resolution for this Season by Monica Worline & Jane Dutton


New York Magazine: Why Danes Think They’re Always The Happiest Country by Drake Baer


The Week: 4 ways to bring more meaning into your life by Eric Barker


Guardian: Are you too old to find success? by Oliver Burkeman


Atlantic: Praise is a consolation prize (about Carol Dweck’s work in growth mindset) by Christine Gross-Loh


Atlantic: Awesomeness Is Everything by Matthew Hutson


Guardian: Happiness depends on health and friends, not money, says new study by Phillip Inman


Washington Post: Leaders are more powerful when they’re humble, new research shows by Ashley Merryman


Psychology Today: Want Your Work to Flourish? Link Strengths and Goals by Ryan Niemiec


New York Magazine: To Be More Productive, First Figure Out Your Productivity Style by Cari Romm


Science Daily: People’s energy in the workplace is key to staff retention, no author


Greater Good Science Center: Is Your Empathy Determined by Your Genes? by Summer Allen


Psychology Today: The Happy Brain by Mark Banschick


Wall Street Journal: The perils of empathy by Paul Bloom


New York Times: How to Choose Happiness by Marie Kondo


Redlands Daily Facts: President Obama — our positive psychologist-in-chief: Guest commentary by Sonja Lyubomirsky


Gallup: What Strengths Tell Us About Men and Women by Jane Miller and Amy Adkins


Creativity Post: 3 Foolproof Ways to Prevent Work Burnout, Backed by Science by Emma Seppälä


Greater Good Science Center: Would the World Be Better Off without Empathy? by Jill Suttie


USA Today: Key to money happiness may be in how you spend it by Russ Wiles


Positive.News: Why now is the time for serious optimism by Seán Dagan Wood


Atlantic: Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self by Ed Yong


Heleo: Beyond Grit: The Science of Creativity, Purpose, and Motivation (feat. Angela Duckworth & Adam Grant), no author


New York Magazine: It’s Possible to Train Yourself to Be More Optimistic by Drake Baer


Bakadesuyo: 4 Easy Tricks That Will Make You Productive by Eric Barker


APA: Motivate Employees By Supporting Their Autonomy by Christopher Budnick


Psychology Today: Thinking Errors in Depression by Neil Burton


Greater Good Science Center: How to Only Do Things You Actually Want to Do by Christine Carter


Psychology Today: How to Remain Optimistic Through Change by Susanna Halonen


Quartz: Can money buy happiness? by Catherine Jansson-Boyd


Psychology Today: Is Positive Psychology Proven? (Interview with my Capstone advisor Margaret “Peggy” Kern) by Michelle McQuaid


Harvard Business Review: How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Company’s Leadership by Megan Reitz & Michael Chaskalson


New York Magazine: To Be Happier, Do One Creative Thing Every Day by Cari Romm


Greater Good Science Center: Why Is It So Hard to Make Positive Changes? by Jill Suttie


Guardian: Reasons to be cheerful: how putting other people first will make you happy by Dan Ariely


New York Magazine: The Chinese Word for Anger Shows the Best Way to Get Mad by Drake Baer


Guardian: Why rewards can backfire by Oliver Burkeman


Science for Work: Trust: does it impact team performance… or not? by Wendy Hirsch


Psychology Today: Can We Simplify Wellbeing? (Interview with Aaron Jarden) by Michelle McQuaid


Psychology Today: The Impostor Syndrome and How To Handle It by Adam Molinsky


World Economic Forum: Do you trust your boss? Your answer may depend on where you live by Joe Myers


Wall Street Journal: Civility at Work Helps Everyone Get Ahead by Christine Porath


World Economic Forum: 10 companies that are great at empathy by Stéphanie Thomson


New York Times: Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment by Ruth Whippman


New York Magazine: Yes, Quitting Facebook May Make You Happier by Drake Baer


Psychology Today: Can You Be Vulnerable at Work? by Megan Dalla-Camina


Center for Positive Organizations: For a better workplace, make first moments matter feat. Jane Dutton


Harvard Business Review: If You Can’t Empathize with Your Employees, You’d Better Learn To by Annie McKee


Guardian: The pursuit of happiness: could a ‘happy city index’ end Bristol’s blues? by Arit Niranjan


The Positive Organization: Repairing Relationships at Work by Robert Quinn


New York Times: How Exercise Might Keep Depression at Bay by Gretchen Reynolds


Greater Good Science Center: How the Growth Mindset Can Increase Cooperation by Alex Shashkevich


Psychology Today: 7 Ways to Be Awe-Inspired in Everyday Life by Andy Tix


Psychology Today: Neuroscience Research Shows How Mood Impacts Perception by Susan Krauss Whitbourne


New York Magazine: How to (Kind of) Master Your Neuroticism by Drake Baer


New York Magazine: People Really Are Happier When the Sun Is Out Longer by Drake Baer


Psychology Today: Positive Thinking? Overrated by Samantha Boardman


Entrepreneur: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People by Travis Bradberry


New York Magazine: Power Reveals Who You Really Are by Melissa Dahl


Creativity Post: LinkedIn + Positive Psychology: Applying Science To The Way We Work by Stephanie Harrison


Huffington Post: Can You Create Positive Changes From The Bottom Up? (Interview with Chris White) by Michelle McQuaid

Greater Good Science Center: Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience by Kira Newman


Psychology Today: Positive Emotions and Wellbeing by Marianna Pogosyan


New York Times: The end of Relaxation by Sadie Stein


Huffington Post UK: Have More Conversations That Matter by Mark Williamson


APA.org: Growth after Trauma by Lorna Collier


Guardian: The placebo effect: is there something in it after all? Steve Connor


New York Magazine: Empathy Is Nice, But It’s Not Exactly Necessary by Melissa Dahl


New York Times: Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded by The Dalai Lama & Arthur Brooks


New York Post: Are Mormons the happiest people in America? by Mackenzie Dawson


New York Times: Nudges That Help Struggling Students Succeed by David Kirp


Vox: The myth of self-control by Brian Resnick


Psychology Today: How to Have a Positive Powerful Presence by Marcia Reynolds


Psychology Today: Why Don’t We Trust Each Other More? by Nan Russell


Psychology Today: Emotions and Rationality in Leadership by Eyal Winter


New York Magazine: 3 Ways to Get Over ‘Status Quo Bias’ at Work by Drake Baer


Forbes: The Psychology Of Professional Purpose: How To Follow Your Calling by Caroline Beaton


Psychology Today: The Happiness Myth: Why the pursuit of Happiness will make you miserable by Atalanta Beaumont


Atlantic: How to Build a Happier Brain by Julie Beck


Guardian: Want to ‘train your brain’? Forget apps, learn a musical Instrument by Mo Costandi


New York Magazine: By the Way, You Don’t Have to Stop Power Posing by Melissa Dahl


Psychology Today: 3 Fascinating Discoveries About Laughter by Todd Kashdan


Quartz: Scientists explain how happiness makes us less creative by Ephrat Livni


Quartz: Google’s former happiness guru developed a three-second brain exercise for finding joy by Lila MacLellan


The Positive Organization: The Choice to be Transformational by Robert Quinn


New York Magazine: Want to Make Better Decisions? Try ‘Temptation Bundling’ by Jesse Singal


Pursuit (University of Melbourne): Positive Psychology much more than Happyology by Katerine Smith (Interview with my MAPP Capstone advisor Peggy Kern)


Quartz: The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health by Ephrat Livni


Quartz: Positive psychology is rooted in the radical idea that you are not a problem to fix by Tim Lomas


Guardian: Our children are paying a high price for society’s vision of success by Tim Lott


Forbes: Five Behaviors Of People Who Are Happy At Work by Rebecca Newton


GQ: The World’s Happiest Man Wishes You Wouldn’t Call Him That by Michael Paterniti


Psychology Today: The Secret to Achieving Your Dreams No One Tells You About by Emma Seppälä


Mindful.org: How to Free Yourself from Your Personal Stories by Bob Stahl & Steve Flowers


Greater Good Science Center: People Who Trust Technology Are Happier by Deborah Yip


Heleo: Nir Eyal and Monica Worline on Why Cultivating Compassion is Crucial for Success in Business, no author


Science Daily: In the workplace, incivility begets incivility, new study shows, no author


BBC: School league tables ‘should show well-being’ by Sean Coughlin


New York Magazine: A Little Loneliness Can Be a Very Good Thing by Melissa Dahl


Psychology Today: Stoic Truths for a Digital World by John Sean Doyle


The Conversation: Can money buy you happiness? It’s complicated by Cathrine Jansson-Boyd


Inc: The Negative People in your Life are literally Killing you by Jessica Stillman


New York Times: The Art of Making (and Not Making) Plans by Verena von Pfetten


Fast Company: Science-Backed Ways To Build Confidence When You Feel Like You’re Out Of Your League by Stephanie Vozza


Huffington Post: In Defense of Doers by Chris White


Scientific American: Depressed? Do What You Love by Daisy Yuhas


Yahoo Finance: 99 Percent of Employees With High Well-Being and Organizational Support Say Their Employer Is a Good Place to Work, no author


New York Magazine: A Smart Sense of Humor Helps People Survive Being Alive by Drake Baer


Bakadesuyo: This Is How To Unlock Meaning In Life: 4 Proven Secrets by Eric Barker


Greater Good Science Center: How to Teach Happiness at School by Ilona Boniwell


New York Times: Teaching Your Child Emotional Agility KJ Dell’Antonia


Harvard Business Reciew: How Microsoft Uses a Growth Mindset to Develop Leaders by Carol Dweck & Kathleen Hogan


Forbes: How To Train These Six Senses Of Happiness by Jessica Hagy


Psychology Today: The Subtle but Very Real Human Costs of Reorganizations by Victor Lipman


Psychology Today: The Science of Accomplishing Your Goals by Ralph Ryback


Psychology Today: The Top 3 Insights of Highly Innovative Leaders by Emma Seppälä


Creativity Post: You Can’t Clone Talent and Wisdom by Steve Tobak


Psychology Today: How Leaders Can Bring Calm to Chaotic Organizations by Ray Williams

Mappalicious - Positive Psychology news Digest

Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 46/2016

My favorite pieces covering Positive Psychology and adjacent from (roughly) the last seven days.

New York Magazine: Yes, Quitting Facebook May Make You Happier by Drake Baer


Psychology Today: Can You Be Vulnerable at Work? by Megan Dalla-Camina


Center for Positive Organizations: For a better workplace, make first moments matter feat. Jane Dutton


Harvard Business Review: If You Can’t Empathize with Your Employees, You’d Better Learn To by Annie McKee


Guardian: The pursuit of happiness: could a ‘happy city index’ end Bristol’s blues? by Arit Niranjan


The Positive Organization: Repairing Relationships at Work by Robert Quinn


New York Times: How Exercise Might Keep Depression at Bay by Gretchen Reynolds


Greater Good Science Center: How the Growth Mindset Can Increase Cooperation by Alex Shashkevich


Psychology Today: 7 Ways to Be Awe-Inspired in Everyday Life by Andy Tix


Psychology Today: Neuroscience Research Shows How Mood Impacts Perception by Susan Krauss Whitbourne

IMG_7977-4

Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 37/2016

My favorite pieces covering Positive Psychology and adjacent from (roughly) the last seven days.

Harvard Business Review: The More You Energize Your Coworkers, the Better Everyone Performs by Wayne Baker


Fast Company: 7 Science-Backed Steps To Take Before Quitting A Job That’s Burning You Out by Rachel Grumman Bender


Wall Street Journal: The More Cash People Have, the Happier They Are by Andrew Blackman


ERE Media: The Business Benefits Of Happy Employees by Karlyn Borysenko


Wall Street Journal: Get Your Children Good and Dirty by Brett Finlay & Marie-Claire Arrieta


New York Times: The Difference Between Rationality and Intelligence by David Hambrick & Alexander Burgoyne


Greater Good Science Center: Who Is Attracted to Inspiring Media? by Sophie Janicke


New York Times: Can You Have a Good Life if You Don’t Have a Good Job? by Michael Lind


Guardian: Could bad buildings damage your mental health? by Emily Reynolds


New York Times: Can Teenage Defiance Be Manipulated for Good? by Amanda Ripley


Fast Company: 7 Surprising Facts About Creativity, According To Science by John Paul Titlow


Huffington Post: Three ways to work better together by Chris White


Heleo: Mastering the Art of Pre-suasion with Robert Cialdini, no author

Mappalicious - Positive Psychology news Digest