Sharing POS During My Internship

September 7, 2015

By: Susanna Chan

“Thank you Susanna for sharing the valuable practice of Positive Leadership! We will have to over-compensate when you are no longer here. You have an amazing positive soul.”

A colleague emailed this kind note to me after I hosted a Snack and Learn session on Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) during my internship this summer. As a Summer Associate in Deloitte’s Organizational Transformation & Talent service line, I learned the tools of the human capital consulting trade. I had the additional unique opportunity to showcase my knowledge as a Fellow for the Center for Positive Organizations (CPO).

I hosted the POS Snack and Learn on my last Wednesday, at 3:00 in the afternoon. Going into the session, I was extremely excited to present because I had been telling my team about my experience as a CPO Fellow for weeks. Virtually all of my colleagues showed their support and attended the session even though they were immensely pressed for time. The palpable feeling of the afternoon slump prior to the session ironically drove my enthusiasm even higher. I knew I was about to reenergize my team by demonstrating the benefits of CPO research in the workplace in real time.

As we settled into a spacious conference room and enjoyed fresh fruit snacks, I kicked off the session with a surefire energy boosting activity that we regularly employ at CPO, called “Daily Celebrations.” Each team member took a couple minutes to contemplate what they were grateful for and then we shared our personal celebrations. The responses ranged from being grateful for the sunny Chicago weather to upcoming vacation plans. The resulting beaming smiles and chuckles represented a new and welcome energy in the room.

I happily continued the session with an overview of positive leadership research in which I emphasized the key enabling strategies of positive climate, relationships, communication, and meaning. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of those strategies in the real world, I highlighted companies that implement strategies related to POS such as LinkedIn with values-based recruiting, and Zingerman’s with open book finance. Next, I recapped a POS-based practice I had implemented during a project pot luck that happened the week prior – a “Gratitude Basket.” During the course of the pot luck, 20 attendees filled out slips of paper with words of thanks and gratitude for their colleagues. Research came to life as both those who received recognition and those who gave recognition emanated positivity for their teammates through the messages delivered via the basket. Finally, I wrapped up the session with a walk-through of the numerous resources available on the CPO website, from journal articles to case studies, to videos of the Positive Links speaker series.

After completing the formal agenda, my teammates asked several questions that led to an active discussion around the difference between being a positive leader versus a positive person and whether there are centers outside of Michigan’s CPO that emphasize the same type of practices and research. This discussion and the ensuing feedback like the quote above demonstrated how engaged my teammates were in the small amount of material we covered in the session. I found it incredibly inspiring that a half hour of material had effectively transformed the energy of my team to be more positive and resilient than it already was.

Following this experience, I am even more committed to being a positive leader and am eagerly anticipating additional opportunities to share my experience as a CPO Fellow. My heartfelt thanks to the CPO for providing me with the tools and knowledge to host such a session and be a better and more positive leader for it.