When we set out to create a positive culture, we often ask a company to create a network of positive energizers. We ask them to select the most positive people from across the organization and use them to conceptualize and lead the change process. This tends to work well. Why?
We met with such a group. At the outset, the senior-most person greeted them, and then they did personal introductions. The senior person reviewed history; explained they were being asked to guide culture change and they were in uncharted waters; and they were being asked to envision, dream, and create. In the introductions, they had three tasks. They were to introduce themselves, explain how they access positive energy, and share their favorite vacation spot.
When I later began to work with the group, I asked them to reflect on the introductions and identify the unusual commonalities. They said that the people in the group were authentic and comfortably vulnerable. The individuals, for example, openly spoke of the challenges overcome by parents or children. The examples led to a sense that life obstacles are opportunities. One said his father grew up in a tent, came to the United States with nothing and is now a professor. Another spoke of the commitment to a handicapped child and the blessings to the family.
They said the individuals were optimistic. Many people shared personal life challenges but expressed genuine gratitude for the benefits associated with the challenges. They said the group found meaning in their work. A union member said, “I have been a lineman for over twenty years but I have never worked a day in my life: I love what I do and I love the people I work with.”
They said the group was relational. Individuals had much to say about helping others and learning from others. The group was curious. Many spoke of vacations as learning experiences. Finally, there was a great focus on the learning of others. One man, for example, joyfully described his daughter and her constant progress in soccer. Another spoke of seeing herself as a teacher at work and rejoiced in the development of her people.
Why are networks of positive energizers so helpful in bringing change? They tend to be authentic, vulnerable, optimistic, grateful, relational, contributive, curious, and hungry for the development of others. In other words, they are genuine leaders.
- Who are the positive energizers in your organization?
- What are their common characteristics?
- How could you put them to work?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?