By Heather Graham, LCSW, CEAP
Creator of the Espyr Leadership Excellence and Development Coaching Program (LEAD)
When you enter the realm of leadership development, you hear a lot about strengths and assessments of those strengths. Any great organization knows that when leaders are using their strengths, the organization performs better and reaches or even exceeds their goals. They know that when leaders are using those strengths they are engaged and performing at a higher capacity. According to Gallup (2018) only 34% of employees are actively engaged, 13% are actively disengaged and 53% are neither “happy nor miserable.” The 53% show up for work, just do the minimum and are much more likely to leave for the next best opportunity. Furthermore, leaders are estimated to be responsible for as much as 70% of team engagement. * Engaged employees perform better, stay longer, are more efficient and influence others to do the same.
53% of employees just do the minimum and are much more likely to leave for the next best opportunity.
If you’ve ever explored different programs, tests and assessments that look at leadership skills, strengths and even personality type to help develop leaders and get people in the right positions, then you know there’s a lot of options and complexity in this arena. Figuring how to use the results can be the most overwhelming part. However, helping leaders can be much simpler and more effective than you think.
The concept of flow
In the world of positive psychology, there is a term called flow. As a leadership coach and developer of the LEAD coaching program for Espyr, I’ve spent years applying this concept in helping leaders get to the next level. Uncovering where, when and how a leader experiences flow is the cornerstone of my approach.
Flow is a term for being “in the zone.” When someone is in “flow,” they are fully immersed in an activity in which they feel energized, focused and are enjoying the process. They are not questioning their skills nor are they feeling self-conscious. When in this state, one can lose track of time and be completely engrossed in an activity. In the workplace, this is a huge asset. Employees in a state of flow use their skills to their maximum potential and with a laser-like focus. In a time where we face distractions everywhere, who doesn’t want a leader that is focused and engaged? What organization doesn’t want their employees to maximize their talents and even enjoy it, especially when it helps the company’s mission and bottom line?
Finding your flow
So how do you find flow? This is where knowing your character strengths is important. When someone experiences flow, they are using not only their skill set, but most importantly, they are engaging their core strengths. These character strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact the way you think, feel and behave. They are what makes you your “best self” and help you thrive at work and in your personal life. Find out yours by taking the research-based (and free) character strengths survey at www.viacharacter.org.
Encourage your leaders and employees to take the survey as well. Then, ask them to take note of all aspects of their job. Where do they most utilize their skills and their top five character strengths? Where did they lose track of time and were focused intently on the job or process? Was there a recent time where they were really engaged in an activity and felt a sense of contentment when it was finished? What tasks were so enjoyable they would want to do it again? Was that task meaningful and were naturally motivated to work on it? What skills were they utilizing? How did they feel when they finished the task/project? These questions can help leaders and employees to see where they might experience “flow.” This can be a starting point for putting your best people in the right positions, leading to increased productivity, more effective decision making, higher engagement and an overall more positive workplace.
What if your leader cannot find their flow? Sometimes leaders are promoted to oversee the exact skillset that they were so successful in using. This is where character strengths come into play. Watch for our post next month to learn more.
Espyr is a leading behavioral health company with a mission to help people and organizations achieve their full potential. For more information on the LEAD coaching program, please contact Heather Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-309-4426. For information on our comprehensive EAP and other innovative behavioral coaching programs, please call 888-570-3479.
*(Gallup. (2018). Employee Engagement on the Rise in the U.S. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/flow-at-work/).