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Why Positivity Matters to Your Bottom Line

Guest Contributor: Andrew Soren


Leadership is hard enough already, but now there is a heightening onus on leaders to have an accountability system in place that fosters the well-being of their teams. Those that do this experience a valuable ROI.


Well-being is on our radar at Pivotal Growth, as our focus is supporting performance cultures, ambitious leaders and high-performing teams.

If this seems like a topic you would only expect to see in Psychology Today, think again. It’s a topic of great importance, and at the top of agendas with our corporate clients.


Team well-being, which is their spiritual, financial, and relational wellness, is imperative for stability and success of impact and results. It’s a priority to get support in the areas that need the most to achieve this trifecta of wellness.


 

"Well-being has transcended personal work and is now corporate work. Companies that scored high in well-being outperformed the S&P 500 by 20% between 2021-2023"

 

To get a little more insight, we reached out to our trusted network. One of the most memorable coffee conversations was with Andrew Soren, founder and CEO of Eudaimonic by Design. He specializes in Organizational Well-Being, and we were so impressed and engaged with his ability to take psychology and translate it into the business environment.


Andrew shared a recent study done by Oxford and Indeed with us. “It was a massive study that looked at over 1,600 publicly traded companies and tracked their valuation relative to levels of well-being. They collected over 115 million data points from 2019 to 2023 and looked at return on assets, profitability and market performance. What they found was that companies that scored high in well-being (meaning that employees said their levels of happiness, satisfaction and purpose were higher, and stress was lower) outperformed the S&P 500 by 20% between 2021 and 2023.” Andrew, who used to work in banking, adds, “Those are results that bankers pay attention to!” 


With this validation, we wanted to know more: Why are we just hearing about well-being?

 

Exploring the Foundations of Positive Psychology

Andrew’s research into High-performance Culture led him to a field of study founded in 1998, called Positive Psychology. It is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. While psychology has become very good at asking the question, “What’s wrong with us?”, Positive Psychology roots itself in asking, “What’s right with us?”


 

"Science directly connects Positive Psychology and well-being to high-performance teams."

 

There has been much research done in the educational, governmental and corporate environments with Positive Psychology, which supports it being an evidence-based model. In a simplified summary, it’s based on the five pillars of well-being, known as PERMA.


Positive Emotion - Cultivating happiness and positive feelings

Engagement - Immersing in activities that provide flow and absorption

Relationships - Nurturing and maintaining meaningful social connections

Meaning - Finding purpose and significance in life

Accomplishment - Achieving goals and feeling a sense of competence


Andrew describes the position of Positive Psychology as “looking at what it takes to flourish – in life as well as work.” He states, “It turns out that well-being is critically important. Positive Psychology has become a real movement. Not only has the pure research grown exponentially, but its application in education, healthcare, military, coaching and business are becoming billion-dollar industries.”



Founder and CEO of Pivotal Growth, Lisa Haydon, asked herself this very question seven years ago while working at a senior position in corporate. The impact of her answer changed her career course. It was then that she realized she had to do something that was more aligned with her purpose, and that made her feel like she was making an impact. Have you paused to ask yourself this important question?


 

"Now is the time that companies can make a difference by helping their employees feel valued and valuable."

 

Andrew says, “Many out there may tell you that incorporating positive psychology at work is as easy as keeping a gratitude journal or practicing mindfulness. These can be powerful interventions with an outsized impact. But in my experience (and recent research backs me up), if you really want to infuse the benefits that come from Positive Psychology in your company, you’ve got to reach far broader than any individual intervention.”

 

Reaching beyond what you are already striving for in business seems like a lot of added work, effort, energy and resource management. But implementation of such an important well-being mandate is much easier when one or more of these three things are present within your company.


Values-based Culture – Positive Psychology is much easier to infuse into a company if that company fundamentally values things like care, connection, mutuality, fairness, integrity and excellence.


People and Operational Policies – When it comes to bringing culture to life, the most important thing you can do is inject all of those values into policies and procedures.


Positive Leadership – If you want to be a positive leader, there are very clear behaviours you need to work on mastering.


Well-being in Action

When we asked Andrew about a successful client story, he recalls one that was a 100% follow through story. “Mature businesses are thinking, ‘How are we doing work that is infusing well-being?’ and ‘How are we thinking about goal setting, managing, etc. that isn’t killing well-being?’ The ultimate level would be, ‘Is the work that we are actual doing here making a difference in the world?’"


Andrew describes the evolution of BMO’s vision as an example. 25 years ago, BMO wanted to maximize shareholder return. 15 years ago, it was defining the customer experience category. Today, explains Andrew, they have changed their vision into a purpose and are holding true to “boldly grow the good in business and in life.”


To make this commitment a reality, BMO Capital Markets committed to becoming the bank of sustainable finance, and today is a global leader in the space mobilizing $300 billion in capital to clients pursuing sustainable outcomes through green, social and sustainable lending, underwriting, advisory services, and investment. BMO understood that meaning and purpose, and that the heart of well-being needed to be baked into its business model, both internally and externally.


Mattering Matter and Being Valued is Valuable

There’s a strong correlation for recognizing and valuing employees in the workplace to achieve results. Studies show that prioritizing well-being and making employees feel valued leads to a substantial ROI and outperforming market benchmarks. Positive Psychology, centered on strengths and fulfillment, replaces the traditional, "What's wrong with us?" with "What's right with us?" Andrew has shown us the importance of helping leaders achieve outcomes and impact by fostering a sense of value among their teams.


In a world where talent retention, burnout, and growth challenges are prevalent, recognizing the significance of "mattering" and feeling valued is paramount for organizational success. This is where a positive leader is imperative to continue the development of well-being amongst teams.

 

Positive Leader Checklist

As a quick check in to see how you are doing in this context, Andrew recommends a checklist from the co-founder of Positive Psychology, Robert Quinn.


1.      Growth Focus: Growth mentality, investing in the future, seeing possibility

2.      Self-organization: Empowerment, spontaneity, autonomy support

3.      Creative Action: Responsive, up to date, a learning organization

4.      Intrinsic Motivation: Meaningful, rewarding, fulfilling work

5.      Positive Contagion: Positive emotions, optimism, enthusiasm

6.      Full Engagement: Committed, engaged, fully involved people

7.      Individual Accountability: Responsibility, accountability, excellence

8.      Decisive Action: Speed, urgency, decisiveness

9.      Achievement Focus: Achievement, accomplishment, success

10.   Constructive Confrontation: Honesty, challenge, confrontation


At the heart of everything we do at Pivotal Growth, we help leaders in their pursuit of outcomes, impact and results. We do this based on a what’s right foundation, and selective what’s wrong action plan. We assess soft skills and have unconsciously been using facets of positive psychology to measure supportive leadership. The positive effect of a supportive leader is backed by science, especially Positive Psychology and research.


If your gut is telling you that you have employees who don’t feel valued and that their work matters, our leadership development solutions can assess, create a solution solution and design how to get leadership on track to lead employee wellness, retain and attract talent and enable high-performing teams. If your leadership strategies and aspired leader persona incorporate supportive leadership that you want to embed into your culture, have a conversation with Andrew Soren.


 

Andrew Soren is the Founder and CEO of Eudaimonic by Design, a global network of facilitators, coaches and advisors who share a passion for well-being and believe organizations must be designed to enable it.


For the past 20 years, Andrew has worked with large corporations, helping them create high-performance cultures. He has worked with some of the most recognized brands, non-profits and public sector teams to co-create values-based cultures, develop positive leadership, and design systems that empower people to be their best.


Andrew is a board member of the International Positive Psychology Association, and chaired the 8th World Congress on Positive Psychology in Vancouver 2023. Since 2013, he has been faculty with the University of Pennsylvania’s internationally renowned Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program.


Andrew is an ICF certified coach through the Co-Active Training Institute (formerly the Coaches Training Institute).


 

About Lisa Haydon


Lisa W. Haydon is a seasoned operational leader and entrepreneur with over three decades of experience in banking, capital markets, technology, and professional services.  

  

With a keen vision for aligning people, processes, and outcomes, Lisa has become a driving force in the field of leadership development. She brings innovation to the forefront by leveraging data-driven strategic cohort programs, generating value-added insights, and adopting AI-enabled technology. Her pioneering work with high-growth companies and high-performance leaders led to the design and commercialization of a proprietary leadership diagnostic solution. 

  

She is known for her unique ability to navigate complex business challenges, understand diverse leadership styles, and deliver transformational results. 

  

Lisa and her team are a group of forward-thinking, technology- and people-focused professionals who become a trusted partner in the pursuit of leadership-driven success. 

  

 


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