insium's newsletter on leadership: April, 2016

Written by Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00
Published in Newsletter

The subject of my Master of Applied Positive Psychology course this semester is Positive Psychology and Organisations.  Our first assignment was to find an example of a positive organisation and to analyse it against:

  • Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi’s notion of a positive institution (2000) where they define positive institutions as those that “move individuals toward better citizenship” through cultivating “responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation, tolerance, and work ethic” (p. 5); and
  • Stansbury and Sonenshein’s (2012) three elements of positive ethics; these being morally praiseworthy, discretionary and positively deviant


I chose the Lort Smith Animal Hospital as my case-study.  The following are a few excerpts from my assignment.
 
The Lort Smith Animal Hospital has been committed to caring for animals for the past 80 years.  The hospital’s vision is “to be the recognised leader in Australia for animal health and wellbeing” and its mission is “to improve the health and happiness of animals and the people who care for them,” with the supporting values of care and compassion, quality and affordability, integrity and respect (Lort Smith Animal Hospital, 2014).  The hospital is the largest not-for-profit animal hospital in Australia, providing veterinary care, adoption and fostering services, emergency boarding and bereavement services to animals and their owners…

 … In addition to providing sanctuary, rehabilitation, welfare and a new home for animals, nurturance permeates all that the hospital provides and is linked to its core principle of preserving the human-animal bond … A further example of nurturance is the “Mates for Inmates” program (Humpage, 2015) in which female inmates care for and train rescue dogs, providing a second chance for the inmates by providing responsibility, a sense of purpose and future opportunities for employment.  The dogs also get a second chance where they are loved, cared for and trained to increase their likelihood of finding new homes. 
 
… A strong example of positive deviance and compassionate generosity to victims of hardship as described by Stansbury and Sonenshein (2012), is the hospital’s Emergency Boarding Program which is part of the Adoption Centre; … this program provides care for the pets of some of the most vulnerable members of community – for example, those who have mental health issues, the homeless, the elderly requiring emergency hospitalisation and victims of domestic violence.  The Lort Smith has been providing emergency accommodation since 1936 ensuring that pets are fed, accommodated, receive medical assistance if needed and receive tender, loving care until they can be reunited with their owner.  It can be argued that this program has been deviating existing norms in a way that is positive and honourable (Stansbury & Sonenshein, 2012) for many years.
 
… While the day-to-day actions described provide clear evidence that the hospital is a positive institution and is positively ethical, there many more actions undertaken by the hospital which, while not included, further reinforce its standing as positive and ethical. 
 
insium is a proud supporter of the Lort Smith Animal Hospital.
 
If you are interested in reading the entire assignment, please let me know.


Humpage, A.  (2015, September 3).  Rescue dogs in Mates for Inmates program at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Ravenhall.  Herald Sun.  Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/west/rescue-dogs-in-mates-for-inmates-program-at-dame-phyllis-frost-centre-ravenhall/news-story/1a27937d5ba808b9d783e40511ef0a0a
 
Lort Smith Animal Hospital (2014).  Mission, Vision & Values.  Retrieved from http://www.lortsmith.com/what-we-do/about-us/mission-vision-values/
 
Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. The American Psychologist55(1), 5-14.
 
Stansbury, J. M. & Sonenshein, S. (2012).  Positive business ethics: Grounding and elaborating a theory of good works. In K. S. Cameron & G. M. Spreitzer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive organizational scholarship (pp. 340 – 352).  New York: Oxford University Press.

 

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Wellbeing boards for your workplace

Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00
Published in Blog

Following is a simple idea for building wellbeing at work.  The idea involves creating a space for a “board” and then rotating the “subject” of the board on a monthly basis in order to keep the board fresh and novel.  Everyone is encouraged to participate, but it is certainly not mandatory; input may be as often as desired.

The board subjects might include:

  • Success – that is, what are the successes – small or large – that you/we/I have experienced
  • Gratitude – what are you/we/I grateful for
  • Good Things – what are 3 good things that have happened to you/us/me
  • Appreciation – that is, this is what I appreciate about you/this team/what you have done/what I have done
  • “Surprise/Gift” - everyone has an envelop with their name on the board and others are encouraged to include “gifts/surprises” for that person… this can be playful and/or serious
  • Wellbeing Ideas – that is, everyone is encouraged to share their ideas of what they do to maintain/improve their own wellbeing
  • Ideas for more boards – that is, everyone is encouraged to come up with their own ideas for board subjects

The idea of having wellbeing boards comes from a number of people - thank you.

A daring culture and feedback

Friday, 15 April 2016 00:00
Published in Blog

Brené Brown describes a daring culture as one that is honest, constructive, and engages in feedback.  She also explains that giving or receiving feedback is likely to result in some discomfort; “feedback thrives in cultures where the goal is not getting comfortable with hard conversations but nomalising discomfort.  By letting people know that this discomfort is normal, is going to happen and why, this actually reduces the anxiety, fear and potential shame.  This is consistent with growth and learning being uncomfortable, with individuals stepping outside of their comfort zone in order to learn and grow. 

In telling her students that there will be times that they will feel discomfort, discomfort becomes an expectation and the norm, to the point where her students inform her, “I haven’t been uncomfortable yet.  I’m concerned.”  This in turn leads to key feedback conversations regarding their engagement and also, her teaching, leading to growth and learning for all.

The key for leaders is to foster and support the courage to be uncomfortable; is to be willing to be vulnerable and role-model this daring behaviour; to help the people with whom we work to accept this discomfort as a part, even a sign, of growth and learning.

 

Brown, B.  (2012).  Daring greatly:  How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.  London:  Penguin Books.