"A happy person (company) is not a person (company)
in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person
(company) with a certain set of attitudes" Hugh Downs
This month we explore happiness. Don't Worry, Be Happy
is a song title, but why be happy? What is the relationship
between happy and success? So let's discuss The
Business Case for Happy Companies
There is no doubt that business success depends on
highly motivated employees. So, why do so many companies
have uninspiring leaders and uninspired employees
who plod along with little—or the wrong—motivation?
A new body of research points to a missing dimension
that would enable organizations to achieve stellar
results. This "new science of happiness" goes far
beyond putting on a happy face.
Happiness is not a result, but a cause, of success.
It's key to fully realizing an organization's "return
on people" (ROP), which entails bringing out their
best talents, strengths, passions, interests, knowledge
and skills. From the CEO down to a company's minimum-wage
employees, individual and team happiness is measured
by long-term success.
This new way of gauging organizational health is discussed
in depth in What Happy Companies Know: How the New
Science of Happiness Can Change Your Company for the
Better (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006).
The Business Case for Happy Companies
Several bodies of scientific research have
contributed to our understanding of how the science of happiness
can create a corporate culture that breeds success:
Positive Psychology. This includes the study of strengths,
best practices, character and virtue in an organizational
Neurosciences. Bio-evolutionary theory provides new insights
into why we react as we do under stress. We now know the brain
functions with its left and right hemispheres, as well as
layers of development—from primitive to modern. We pride ourselves
on our sophisticated logic, analytical decisions and judgment
capacities. In reality, more often than we'd like to admit,
we're influenced by these primitive instincts for survival.
Appreciative Inquiry. We've learned a great deal about the
application of appreciative inquiry, a process that delves
into the question of what gives life to organizations. Research
shows that asking the right questions, framed in positive
terms, will lead to more creativity and energy—a superior
approach to traditional problem-solving and beat-the-competition
Emotional Intelligence. Among the newer psychological assessments,
the Benchmark of Organizational Emotional Intelligence (BOEI)
measures an organization's intrinsic emotional intelligence.
Other motivational profiling tools also evaluate how and why
people function in organizations, as well as how those with
differing motivations can learn to work harmoniously.
Cardio-neurology. The coherence generated by positive emotion
and thought unleashes creativity and imagination in ways that
dramatically improve personal health and corporate productivity.
Not only is lowered stress good for the individual's health,
but it's apparently a success factor for healthy organizations.
Taming the Inner Ape
To understand the machinations and culture of work environments,
we must pinpoint how our brains function. In the most basic
terms, the brain has three functional parts:
Self-preservation (fear and sexual drive). The personal-survival
brain is reflexive, causing animals under attack to react
first and think later, thus triggering the fight-or-flight
Personal and group bonding. The social-survival brain enables
us to bond to survive hostile environments. When we cooperate
with others, we have strength in numbers to overcome larger,
stronger enemies. Bonds are strongest between individuals
versus small groups (families, clans, teams) or villages (tribes,
Moral awareness, inspiration, creativity and awe. What makes
humans unique and extraordinarily more capable than other
mammals is the forebrain—specifically, the frontal lobes.
In this part of the brain, we experience consciousness, awareness
of our feelings and the ability to discern right from wrong.
Humans have two sets of linked circuitry: the ancient wiring
that protects and the modern wiring that serves. We refer
to the "emotional brain" to describe our primitive and reactive
parts and to the "executive brain" to describe the frontal
lobes, the center of conscious thought and logic.
Hard-Wired for Hard Times
Our emotional brain remains essential to our biological survival.
While the danger of being chased and eaten by a tiger is no
longer environmentally relevant, our reaction to danger remains
the same. Fear is triggered by perceived danger.
Any time we sense a threat (real or only perceived), our brain
speed-dials a reaction, bypassing its information-processing
parts. Usually, the executive brain kicks in a few milliseconds
later to determine whether a threat is real and modulate our
behaviors and expressions. The rational brain collects more
information and sorts things out.
But when the emotional brain reacts too strongly and frequently
over time, our highly sensitive, survival-based emotions become
the brain's preferred response. After a while, the emotional
brain hijacks the executive brain.
The Opposite of Fear
As long as fear dominates, the brain centers for creativity
and high-level thought are constrained. Any sense of appreciation
is shut down. The human brain cannot process fear and appreciation
at the same time.
The executive or manager who screams at his staff whenever
he feels thwarted creates a fear environment. He's shooting
himself in the foot because his staff's fears prevent the
development of new ideas and solutions. Sometimes, our wiring
creates the perception of hard times when they really don't
exist. Because this response is so automatic, fear frequently
manifests in situations where proneness to reactivity is extremely
An emotionally charged workplace can create fear reactions
that short-circuit higher, more effective business thinking.
Under stress, fear contributes to faulty decision-making,
stretching of ethics and rules, and misconduct and false accounting.
Healthy behaviors in the work environment require the emotional
and executive brain to work together. Good decisions rely
on input from intuition and feelings, and feelings rely on
logic to sort out and decide on behaviors. That's why it's
critical to pinpoint which part of your mind is leading. If
the emotional brain is in charge, you must learn to inform
the executive brain to prevent it from being bullied.
Unhealthy companies are gripped by fear and stuck in emotional
reactions. They cannot adapt, leap forward or ultimately succeed.
Achieving true happiness and leadership success means making
full use of whole-brain functions. Those who work in happy
companies make full use of their imaginations every day, and
they have strong prospects of prevailing in tough environments.
July 4th 2012 marks the 236th birthday of our United States,
lets all take time to reflect on the blessings we enjoy
by living here.
I hope you and your coach are having a lot of fun and creating
a lot of energy and happiness through personal coaching.
I know that I certainly do enjoy the time I spend with my
clients, I have created many personal friendships with my
If you know of anyone that is interested in exploring coaching
or to schedule your own complementary coaching session
contact me at 312-842-4577 or e-mail us by
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit
boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest
Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive
Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments have included
coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various
Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning
Pinney & Associates
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