The Asset CEOs Need Most

Hitendra Wadhwa teaches current and future executives how to breathe. He believes that self-regulation can achieve what market regulation cannot—great business leadership. By Dorian Rolston

The 2 Hallmarks of Thriving Organizations

What leaders enhance to build families, companies, and countries that thrive.

Appreciation and trust keep social units thriving.
Appreciation and trust keep families thriving.
Well-functioning organizations from families to businesses to countries generally share two common traits. Whether their communication is in marriage, at work, or in the political world, individuals in thriving groups radiate a) positivity and b) trust.

In a thriving social system, the participants radiate positivity up, down, and across the social hierarchy. More gratitude and positive vibes yield more enthusisam, affection, and success; and more success in turn enhances positivity. The group then thrives.

Second, in most successful organizations, higher-up authorities do vastly more trusting than controlling of those they manage.

These two factors merit consideration as each of us chooses whom to work with, and even whom to vote for in the up-coming Presidential election. They are relevant too to analyses of how to get our country out of its economic doldrums.  

Gratitude, appreciation, and enthusiasm

A close-to-my heart example of how these two factors work is what it is like for me to write on this website, PsychologyToday.com.  Comments from my readers that appreciate something they have read gives me positive energy to keep writing. t

Like adult children, and young kids too, in a close and loving family, we bloggers hopefully also treat our upper-level editors well, expressing our appreciation early and often. It's a team game, this blogging business, and for that matter, any business. 

A leader's actions are especially vital in this regard.  As I've written in earlier postings about families, when parents, bosses or elected officieals send forth good vibes, express gratitude, and give feedback rather than criticism, they set the tone of the organization.  That's because groups take on the personality of the leader.  When leaders set a tone of positivity, the folks on top feel are more likely to receive feedback that they are valued by those who work under their charge.  Everyone in the organization benefits and the whole family, organization or country is more likely to thrive. 

The current election cycle worries me in this regard.  Both candidates' negative campaigning has everyone focused on what's wrong with how the government has been run and what the candidates have done in their lives.  That constant criticism can get pretty demoralizing for the country. 

I'd much rather hear a yes..and approach.  "Yes, the current administration has accomplished x, y and z, and with my alternative approach I can offer also a, b, c and d which will benefit the country even more."

Trust

The editors here at PsychologyToday.com model what I consider to be the ideal way to be "bureaucrats" vis a vis the bloggers. I love their trusting hands-off approach, intervening only when we genuinely need help.

By contrast with the trusting relationship with which the editors on this website govern its bloggers, a volunteer organization where I sometimes help out exemplifies an initiative-squelching management style. I experience the leadership there as crushingly top-heavy.

For instance, I had come up with a sensible way to upgrade a project I was doing for the organization, and immediately put the idea into action. When my higher-ups heard that I had taken action without first consulting them, the managers criticized me for my quick launch. Immediately I felt all the energy escape my balloon of enthusiasm for the project. As much as I value the work of this organization, asking "Mother may I ...?" for each step I take is a game I outgrew decades ago. 

Similarly, a government which overly-supervises and intervenes in its citizens' and business's functioning can be deflating.  Too much regulation and oversight, like from the leaders in my volunteer organziation, crushes initiative--and in addition, becomes costly to pay for, requiring more taxes.

Parents and spouses similarly need to be wary of hyper-governing. Parents can excessively hover over their children with too much taking-care-of, rules, and controls.  In general, whatever kids could do on their own, they probably should do on their own. Helping kids is one thing, but too much oversight or doing-for them trains kids to feel that they cannot initiate or accomplish activities on their own.

Spouses, too, need to beware of setting themselves above their partner and controlling their loved one. "You should do this." "Why didn't you do that?" Getting bossy will get you an initially grumpy and eventually depressed other half.

In sum, here's a formula for companies, countries, and families that want to foster joyfulness, independence and initiatives. Leaders, send out positive vibes.  Underlings, show appreciation for upper management, and take responsibility for the quality of your work. Authorities, stay clear of excessive command and control that stifles individual initiative. 

Under the sunshine of appreciation and trust, with just light-touch guidance and support from the top, our families, businesses and America are most likely to thrive.

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Susan Heitler, PhD, a Denver Clinical psychologist, is author of multiple publications including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two.  A graduate of Harvard and NYU, Dr. Heitler's most recent project is a marriage skills website, PowerOfTwoMarriage.com

The Asset CEOs Need Most