Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Feeling Energy”

May 27, 2016

By: Mary Ceccanese


Last week we introduced the first of several interviews from attendees at the Positive Leadership Series taught by the faculty at the Ross School of Business, who are top in their fields. Professor Kim Cameron’s research on leadership excellence is known worldwide. We don’t always think of ourselves as leaders if we do not supervise others. Find out what Bob Needham discovered about leading through a positive lens.


Bob Needham
Editorial Content Manager
Marketing & Communications
2.5 years at Ross

1. Before you attended the sessions, what did you think you were going to gain from them?

I really didn’t know what to expect and I had no preconceived ideas. I hoped to get some useful take-aways to use in my work life.

2. How would you explain/describe the experience of attending these sessions to a close friend or family member?

One of the most striking outcomes of the experience (and one I did not expect) was the energy I felt from just being in the classes, as well as the positivity. The different ice breakers that started each class contributed to those feelings. All in attendance, staff and faculty, were really engaged.

3. How do you see yourself applying what you learned in your everyday life?

The sessions as a whole were fascinating because they clarified and brought validity to what we may have had in our lives without realizing the impact. For example, I have always tried to treat people well. The classes brought a framework and structure to those notions. Carrying out what was presented is not just about trying to be nice. These actions contribute to the organization overall by improving retention and delivering better outcomes for everyone.

In the first session, Professor Kim Cameron talked about the heliotropic effect. All of this research shows that these theories work and have power. He stressed and demonstrated how very small actions can lead to big change. I now keep this in mind; in the past, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought but now I know it is worth my time and energy. Professor Robert Quinn talked about a life statement. He was very convincing. I have started that process and intend to continue. His discussion on the fundamental state of leadership made a difference in bringing home to me that even if you don’t supervise anyone, you can be a leader. Professor Gretchen Spreitzer presented information on the tool called “Job Crafting.” It was powerful and useful. Professor Jane Dutton explained what high-quality connections were and showed that they are not only the right practice to do but the smart practice.

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

If we all truly embrace the culture of a positive work environment, we can get through difficult moments. The environment is strengthened when we respect everyone else, and it is a place where you want to be!


If you would like to discover how to be a more effective and positive leader, we highly recommend that you read the book How to Be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact, edited by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer.

Positive Leadership: The Staff Series is a group of interviews capturing staff reflections after participating in the Positive Leadership Workshops.