Positive Leadership

Generating positive energy as a leader (with Kim Cameron)

May 16, 2022 Jean-Philippe Courtois Season 3 Episode 5
Positive Leadership
Generating positive energy as a leader (with Kim Cameron)
Show Notes Transcript

This episode had some very special moments for JP.

Firstly, he got to speak with the person who wrote the book that introduced him to the concept of Positive Leadership: Kim Cameron.

He also learned some valuable tips about creating stronger, more authentic relationships with teams, even when delivering negative feedback.

And finally, he had the opportunity to do the Reflected Best Self Exercise with Kim, which involved hearing from significant people in his life about times when he had a positive impact on them.

Don’t miss this episode. Listen now to learn along with JP. 

JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Being a leader is not easy.  It requires more than knowing how to do the work.  It even requires more than emotional intelligence and resilience.  Good leaders know how to master their own energy.  By energy I mean the team’s level of interaction and enthusiasm after interacting with his or her leaders.


KIM CAMERON:  If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more, that means you’re a positively energizing leader.


KIM CAMERON:  This is the positive leadership podcast with Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft Executive Vice President and President and the founder of Live for Good.


KIM CAMERON:  There he is.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Hello, Kim.  Good morning.  Can you hear me well?


KIM CAMERON:  Good to see you, JP.  Thanks for taking time to do this.


KIM CAMERON:  Inspiring and intriguing conversations from around the world with innovative global leaders who are making a difference.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  My guest today is an expert in how to create the positive energy a team needs to be successful.  He’s one of the world’s leading organizational scholars, William Russell, Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan’s School of Business.  Kim Cameron, welcome, Kim.


KIM CAMERON:  JP, it is such a delight to be with you.  You’ve been a transformational leader worldwide for a long time.  It’s an honor to be with you.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Kim’s one of my major inspirations in my professional life and for this podcast.  It was his positive leadership strategy book that introduced me to positive leadership and shaped how I approach a new chapter of my career, the transformation of Microsoft Sales Organization.


KIM CAMERON:  You flatter me, Jean-Philippe.  There’s this truism that if you can’t do it, you teach it.  Well, I teach it.  You have to do it, see.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Today we are going to be trying something different, an exercise that Kim developed called the reflective best self-feedback exercise.


KIM CAMERON:  For me, this showed you at your best.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  So we’ll be hearing from some of the people I’ve worked closely with over the years.


KIM CAMERON:  --full of commitment and real emotional intelligence.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  There’s a lot to take in for me, you know, Kim.  This exercise helps you create deep and meaningful connections with the people around you, so you can lift them up, both during difficult times and when things are going well.  But, first, I wanted to find out how Kim got interested in the study of positive leadership and positive practices, because he came to it via a rather unusual route, through the work he was doing to companies that were laying people off.  It was in the 1980s, and organizations were going through a recession with trenching and downsizing.


KIM CAMERON:  Over a period of about 10 years, I discovered that almost all organizations that downsize deteriorate in performance.  Trust diminishes, engagement diminishes, profitability diminishes and so on.  Well, that left about 10 or 15% of organizations that I studied that did not deteriorate, but rather flourished.  So the question became, well, what’s the difference between that small number that gets a lot better and everyone else that does not over time?  The answer was I didn’t have empirical data, but, at the time, I had a real distinct impression, the difference had to do with virtuous practices, positive practices embedded in the organization, not just the individuals, but the organizations, routines and practices.  So that led me then into another 20 years, the last 20 years of research, trying to figure out whether or not that was actually true.  And the data has become overwhelming positive.  When organizations implement positive practices, when leaders demonstrate positive leadership, organizations flourish, sometimes surprisingly and dramatically so.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Very, very interesting, indeed, to start looking at a negative spiral of companies shrinking and almost fading away and finding a few jewels there, I guess, where something else was happening, and so building on that question, Kim, in 2002, you founded the Center for Positive Organizations, based at the University of Michigan, a world class research center that has played a key part in establishing what was then a new field management science.  But I think it’s fair to say, isn’t it, Kim, that it took a while for your findings to gain traction with the business community.  Why do you think that that has been the case?  And you could argue it’s still kind of the case today.  All the world is changing as well, but we’ll come back to that later in our dialogue.


KIM CAMERON:  I think that’s exactly right, and I believe, JP, that it has to do with the feeling that I’m under pressure, I’ve struggling, I’ve got real objectives that I haven’t achieved but I have to achieve, and stress and anxiety goes up markedly.  And, again, we’re in that setting here emerging from COVID.  And so people in general say positivity is just a side trip.  It’s false positivity.  It, frankly, makes me angry to have you say, well, just smile your way through this, just think happy thoughts.  I mean, happyology, frankly, turns me off as opposed to turn me on.  So it’s taken a while to generate the research that makes the business case, that is that shows unequivocally, and sure enough, we’ve done that in our research, show unequivocally that implementing what we refer to as positive practice actually improves bottom line.  I mean profitability, productivity, quality, those kinds of things go up.  And, in some cases, dramatically so.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  It’s clear to me that the business case, again, has been proven a few times, at least in my professional life, always believe in delighting or people, employees, the people we work with every single day, we then will be delighted to actually please our customers.  And, if we please our customers, guess what, nice things happen from a business standpoint, and so on and so forth.  Anyway, there’s this magical equation about that satisfaction delight from employees to customers and to the world.  You know, over the past few years, there’s been a shift, and you just mentioned COVID, obviously, which is the drama many people have been going through in their personal and professional lives.  What I’ve noticed, Kim, in my own experiments with working with many businesses across the world is there’s a new need for sure from employees in organization, for what is being called the flexible hybrid workplace where people can decide, pick places, time, flexibility to find the right balance in terms of actually their health, their mental wellbeing, and while also contributing of course to their jobs and results.  At the same time, we see some many, many studies showing that employees quit their companies.  Now for a key reason, which is they’re not allowing the beliefs and values of their companies, so we see a lot more happening on the minds of people picking up.  So love to understand actually the way you see that trend developing yourself in the connections you have.


KIM CAMERON:  Yeah, it’s a wonderful question and dilemma actually.  We’re involved right now in a study actually as we speak, where particularly in healthcare organizations, you know, the so-called great resignation is certainly typical.  People are overwhelmed.  You know, they’re working 70 hour weeks, and they get a phone call, can’t you come in for one more shift, or we’ve got patients waiting for beds who are going to struggle and not survive if they don’t get the beds, but we don’t have the beds.  And it just creates enormous amount of pressure and anxiety.  Turns out there are two or three factors that have emerged as being really important.  One of them has to do with a sense of purpose, profound meaning, and so on.  I’m willing to stick with this because I know I’m going to save lives.  I know it’s difficult right now for me, but it matters so much.  It’s at the very core of who I am as a person.  That is a major predictor.  Another one, interestingly, has to do with the communication or the information shared by the leader, the extent to which the leader informs me, nurtures me, gives me feedback, provides a sense that I’m valuable in the organization.  That has emerged as a very, very important factor, which is sort of related to this idea that I feel valued, I feel like I have an important place in the organization and so on, but the way that that occurs mainly is the kind of information I get from the boss.  Those two factors, now there are many others, of course, but those two factors ended up emerging as really important.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  And this is part of the latest research we are doing on virtuousness as well, Kim, is that right?


KIM CAMERON:  That’s right.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  You know, talking about the same kind of issues, I just had recently a great podcast episode with Herminia Ibarra with the Professor of Organizational Behavior, London Business School in London, and she shared Aristotle’s view that people become virtuous by acting virtuous.  In other words, if you do good, you’ll be good.  Simply put, change happens from the outside in, not from the inside out.  And I found that very interesting actually.  She even wrote a book where she says, well, first act like a leader, and then think like a leader.  What do you think about that?


KIM CAMERON:  I believe that’s true, and I think both occur, by the way.  But the other day I heard somebody say act like it until it becomes real for you.  That is, try it over and over and over again.  Now, the danger in that is that people say you’re being disingenuous, this is not sincere, this is not authentic and so on.  But nevertheless, if I want to become a compassionate person, I’m probably not going to do it by sitting in a room trying to think of myself as a compassionate person.  I’ve got to go in a situation where I actually can be empathetic and helpful and compassionate.  That is not only just feel that way, but behave that way.  So I’m very much in favor of the idea that engage, involve, practice apply.  That then changes everything.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  I’m with you, Kim.  I’m also someone who likes to do things to understand them actually, by making mistakes and by getting a bit better and trying that again.  I had another great chat with someone I’m sure you know really well, Barbara Frederickson, and of course and we talk about some of the positive practices, and we’re going to do some of that today together as well.  In particular, she shared of course a wonderful... can be an ongoing practice of gratitude being intentionally building in moments during the day to do that, and really have that as a new habit among a few other habits.  What do you think about that and what are your own kind of personal habits you built into your daily life?


KIM CAMERON:  I wish I were a better practitioner.  You’re the practitioner, JP.  We should have you describe your life, but the practice of gratitude is among the most powerful and easily implemented practices that has emerged from all this work on positive psychology and positive organizations.  For example, I have a colleague who did the following study, and I’ve done it as well.  But this, the original study was simply taking a classroom of students, asking all of them to keep a gratitude journal, which means, at the end of the day, five minutes before you go to bed, just write down the best things that happen to you today or three things for which you’re grateful.  Half the class kept a gratitude journal, half the class did not.  Then, at the end of the semester, you do several studies.  One is you give everyone a flu shot.  Seven days later, test for the number of antibodies in the system.  Those people keeping a gratitude journal are healthier, significantly healthier, more antibodies in their system than the other group.  You give them a mental acuity test.  What’s that?  Well, you have to memorize information, you have to remember information, you have to come up with sophisticated decision rules for complex data, those keeping a gratitude journal are better, and actually their grade point average is higher than the other group.  Creativity tasks are done.  Those keeping a gratitude journal have more ideas.  I mean, for example, think of all the things you can use a ping-pong ball for or a brick.  More ideas and a broader variety of ideas in the gratitude journal, and the gratitude journal group and so on.  That is, it’s a very powerful intervention, mentally, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally.  So almost everyone I know who is serious about trying to improve themselves using positive practices, has some kind of gratitude journal, gratitude activity, sometimes there’s gratitude meditation, but gratitude becomes a very powerful predictor.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Oh, it’s quite fascinating to think about gratitude as a way to improve your health, improve your memory as well, many of the benefits you just mentioned through research, which is kind of incredible.  Just continuing to build and share some practices based also on research you’ve done, I’d like you to talk a bit more about positive communication and what are the practical recommendation for listeners to create a positive connection communication with others, as they meet with family members, colleagues at work, community members of an association, whatever it is, how do you build intentionally an authentic, positive connection with someone?


KIM CAMERON:  That word authentic is crucial, because, well, I had been married maybe a year.  And, by the way, we just celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, so I thank you, I’ve been married to an angel.  She’s spectacular.  But maybe a year or so into our marriage, she said to me one day, don’t use that technique on me, I’ve read your stuff, okay.  Be sincere, be authentic, be real.  So, of course, that’s the thing I have to do, but there are some rules of thumb and some tools or techniques for how to help communication be especially helpful in building a relationship.  And maybe I’ll mention too.  One is I’ve actually written a little bit about something called supportive communication, and it’s primarily a tool that helps people deliver negative feedback in a way that builds the relationship rather than diminishes the relationship, because most of the time when I give somebody negative feedback, critical feedback, you’re doing it wrong, that diminishes, it creates defensiveness or what’s called disconfirmation, I feel worthless, I feel unimportant, I’m no longer valued.  So, well, how do I deliver it in a way that helps?  Well, there’s some steps in how to deliver that message in a way that builds the relationship.  Step one, describe objectively with no evaluation, describe objectively what you just observed.  That is I just saw you interrupt folks in the meeting.  Step two, here’s the consequence of what just happened, or here’s my reaction to it.  Makes me feel bad or makes me upset, or everyone else stopped talking, or disrupted the flow of the meeting or whatever. I’m mixing examples here.  Step three, which is often the most difficult but very helpful, step three is here’s a suggested alternative that would be more acceptable, that would avoid the negative consequences.  So, for example, I remember we’d been married again a year or so, and I was doing a master’s program, stayed up late at night doing my master’s degree.  And my wife would go to bed. I’d stay up till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and the way I would stay awake is I’d eat cereal or toast or something to keep me awake.  Well, at 3:00 in the morning, I didn’t want to do the dishes, so I just left them on the counter.  Well, my wife would get up the next morning and say, well, wait a minute.  Well, there are several options.  One is she could have said nothing, in which case six weeks later I would have come home 10 minutes late, she would have hit the ceiling, not because I was 10 minutes late, but because of six weeks of dirty dishes on the counter.  Or she could have said you’re really messy.  No, I’m not. Yes, you are.  No, I’m not.  Yes, you are.  No, I’m not.  That is, we could have argued.  The alternative is, honey, I got up this morning, and I see dirty dishes on the counter, step one.  It just starts my day off negatively.  It just sort of takes the bloom off the rose.  That’s step two.  Here’s my reaction.  Step three, you don’t have to do them, but just slide them into the sink, just push them into the sink, and it’s not a miss, and we can do them with all the other dishes.  That’s the suggestion.  That’s step three.  So we never do argue.  I feel empathetic toward her.  She feels empathetic towards me.  So that’s one way is I always have in my mind how can I strengthen, build, enhance this relationship.  And I can do it by being very objective, as opposed to evaluative.  So that’s one way, of course.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  I love it, Kim. I love it.  I love the example as well, which is of course so common for many of us on this podcast, I’m sure.  In my own experience, as well, I knew I’ve been screwing up by delivering poorly such a feedback, you know, in my career and professional life.  Well, the main thing was to help the person, but I didn’t go through all the steps, exactly as you said.  Probably I stopped at the first step and say, oh, this is the way you messed up.  And this is not good.  Well, this is not good enough.  So I love the methodology.  What I love as well, honestly, and I think it ties into what you said, building a lasting positive relationship, because it’s not just a one off.  So what I would often do now after many years again of doing mistakes, I would say, well, I would start actually practicing more positive feedback about the strengths, the fundamentals of the person, where she’s great at, where he’s doing a fantastic job repeatedly, say this is where you show your very best.  And then I’ll get to the fact that happened or something that is, you know, that can be definitely improved, that could be developed and say—and then apply your steps, because I think it’s a wonderful in a way frame that I’ve been following now a lot more to really keep that confidence in the relationship I’ve established with the person for some time already, and then build on that to say, hey, you got strengths, you’ve got a solid foundation, but, if you could do something else here, well, that would be incredibly powerful for you to keep going in the way you do it, and it’s been working better for me and doing a few less big mistakes.


KIM CAMERON:  Well, you’re a good example of that, JP.  I’ve read some descriptions of what you do as a positive leader, so I know this.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Well, I look forward to hear from them, because I’ve not read them, so just maybe one last question before we get into some of the exercises.  You know, there’s been a standing research saying that, you know, basically five positive statements for every negative statement will predict flourishing an organization family, is that right?  Does it take that ratio of 5 to 1 to neutralize a single negative sentiment happening in your life?


KIM CAMERON:  The 5 to 1 ratio is essentially an ideal.  Now, for example, if you’re in an interview and you mess up in a question, it actually will take five positives to overcome the impact of that negative.  But, as it turns out, people flourish most when they are in the presence of five positive inputs for every negative input.  And it’s for several reasons.  One theory has to do with an article written by my colleague, Roy Baumeister, who did a survey of the psychological literature, and the conclusion of that survey was captured by the title of the article.  The title was bad is stronger than good, which is true.  I mean, everything can go well today, and I can get whacked on the side of the head by some negative feedback, and it can ruin my day.  So the question is, well, how do you rationalize the fact that bad is stronger than good with the idea that positive actually helps people flourish?  Well, part of the explanation for that is this 5 to 1 ratio.  More positives will overcome the impact of one negative.  The other is people learn more from the positive in terms of their behavior than they do from the negative.  Emotionally we respond to negatives.  That is, something will ruin my day emotionally.  But, if I’m exposed to two different inputs, one is doing the task correctly, and the other one is doing it poorly and trying to overcome the mistakes, I will learn best from watching it successfully.  That is, I’ll learn best from the positive, as opposed to the negative, so behaviors, if we want to change behaviors, exposure to the positive is the best way to go.  Negatively, we can affect emotions with the negative feedback.  So 5 to 1 overcomes the impact, is the point.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  No, and I think it’s so true, and certainly after I read your book and some of the research years back, I’m much more conscious about that, actually.  Now, let’s shift gears, Kim, and talk about very practical exercise, and so I will be experimenting now kind of real time and no prep, which is about supportive communication.  And one of the tools you recommend is the Best Self-Feedback Process.  So can you explain what it is, the way it works, and the way you can apply that to me now, as I’m going to find out actually some discoveries about the good, the bad, and the ugly in my life.


KIM CAMERON:  Fantastic.  So let me explain what Reflected Best Self-Feedback is.  Most of the time when we get feedback from ourselves and an organization, it’s in some kind of form like a 360 analysis or a 360 rating.  My subordinates, my peers, my superiors all rate me.  I get a feedback report.  Most—I mean, 95% of the time, when I get that feedback report, I look for the low scores.  Where am I not doing so well?  Where am I not doing as well as they think I should or as the norm or something?  So almost all feedback reports focus me on the negative, or at least on the less than desirable.  So we said too ourselves in the center, well, how can we provide feedback to people that doesn’t cue them towards the negative but cues them towards the positive?  So the Reflected Best Self-Feedback process was created, and essentially here it is.  We ask an individual or a set of individuals, say it would be your top team at Microsoft, we ask individuals simply select 20 people or so, select 20 people who know you well, coworkers, family members, neighbors.  Ask them to write three short descriptions, three paragraphs of when they saw you at your very best.  Now, the problem with that question is you often get non-behavioral responses.  Oh, you’re just a very nice guy.  So we often instead of that say describe an incident where you have added unique value, where you’ve been especially high impact in a positive way.  What strengths did you display?  What are the behaviors you display when you are at your best or when you have really made a positive difference?  So an individual gets a whole bunch of stories back, and we simply take them through a process.  We say we’d like to have you identify the themes, the core principles that you see, and then create a reflected best self-portrait.  And it’s going to be a written portrait.  Here is me when I’m at my very best, according to all these other peoples’ descriptions of me. That then can lead to therefore here’s some things I can capitalize on, here’s some ways I can even improve my strengths or at least demonstrate my strengths.  You have done that, or we’ve had it done for you.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Yeah, well, just to explain to listeners what you asked me to do is to end out an email to seven friends and colleagues both from professional and social live, which I did.  And I responded back to you, so I’ve not seen their response at all.  And now I’m going to hear from you, Kim, actually, and see some of that wording coming back to me.


KIM CAMERON:  These are wonderful.  Very tender, very I think high impact.  I have eight different statements here.  Why don’t I pick a sample?


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Yeah, let’s do that.


KIM CAMERON:  The first one.  I will not indicate the names of the folks.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Of course, of course.


KIM CAMERON:  I will never forget my first country visit with JP.  I was just appointed as his chief of staff, and we were traveling through Asia together to meet other area leaders. I was slightly nervous and knew I had loads to learn in my new role.  It was clear that JP had a lot on his plate, which is why I was surprised when he took the time over two hours to take me through everything, explaining how things worked, why we did this, what was that for, and so on.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Oh yeah, I recall that long flight.  I think it actually may have even been more than two hours, and I decided, indeed, to spend a lot of time on the why, on the how, and talk about the context setting, which, to me,  is always super critical to bring the clarity about the way we and the way I was going to decide on things.  And, to me, having the right hand person who’s going to be with me for the next years to come in my job, being on the same line of foots, on the same line of understanding the why was huge but valuable investment of my time, and that’s why I do that quite often.


KIM CAMERON:  I remember thinking how relaxed he made me feel, and the patients he showed, I appreciated how precious time was to him, and yet, when my mind was racing, he was able to slow things down.  He showed incredible empathy for me in that moment.  What I learned over my time working with JP is that he is at his best when he is helping people.  And he finds energy in helping others succeed.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  And I love the fact she appreciate the time as well.


KIM CAMERON:  Here’s another.  I remember my first year as the president of Microsoft APAC.  You’d made a gamble giving me that job and promoting me in the company.  When we won the award for being the best region worldwide, you were so excited on stage, you spoke to the team about the trust you’d put in us and in me in particular.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  That date was actually our global sales event, and we had this upcoming incredibly talented young president of the region in APAC.  And having him succeeding was to me one of the great moments of that event, because all the trust and the faith I put into him and all the incredible work he had done to get there and seeing him on the stage representing his entire team across so many countries in Asia was just filling my dreams and filling my joy.  That was a special moment.


KIM CAMERON:  For me, hearing your words was priceless.  You were at your very best celebrating your success through others.  Maybe I’ll read one more.  In 2015, you and your family had to cope with a painful personal tragedy, but, rather than being overwhelmed, you decided to transform an incalculable loss into a project of life.  That was the origin of the founding of Live For Good, a nurturing community for young social entrepreneurs willing to transform the world.  For me, this showed you at your best, showing positive leadership through a generous vision, deep sense of entrepreneurship, full of commitment, and real emotional intelligence.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  That’s a lot to take in for me now, Kim.


KIM CAMERON:  That’s only a sampling, but you can see how tender and how important that is for you.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  And so now reflecting on this process, what our listeners should take away from that as a base, right, in terms of that self-portrait of in a way the best version of themselves, as people would like to say these days, right?  What would you do with that?


KIM CAMERON:  So one of the things we often see is several things.  One is I didn’t recognize that people appreciated that so much.  That’s pretty natural for me.  It’s kind of normal, but I hadn’t realized the impact it has.  I need to make sure that that’s a constant attribute that I display.  That’s sort of one.  Another is the circumstances in which I tend to be at my best occur regularly, and it’s just part of my ordinary day.  I need to make sure that I capitalize on and maybe even delicate or reinforce or try to foster more of those circumstances where I can be at my best now.  In some of these cases, it was a crisis or something unusual.  But some of them were not.  You just took time for me.  There’s more than one, by the way, that I identified.  You took time to help me.  You took time to help me understand.  You took time to help me be successful.  Even though you were busy, you focused on just me and so on.  So having—identifying the times when it’s pretty natural for me but it’s so appreciated by others, I want to duplicate those times.  Another one is I hadn’t recognized the importance of just a personal connection to these people, and maybe what I should do is write a note of thanks to them, and maybe also identify a time when I’ve seen them at their best.  What happens to the relationship is it takes on a different level of intimacy.  It’s something that’s much more at my heart and at their heart, you know.  Sometimes we have—this has been not unusual at all.  Sometimes we’ve had really teary interactions.  People have read these kinds of things, especially if you get 25 or 30 of these stories.  And invariably you get surprised by what people say, and it has really touched hearts, you know.  The relationship changes markedly.  I mean, when you think about communication, positive communication, trying to make connections, this is one of those ways.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  This is really very precious, Kim, to really elevate that dialogue to the next step for all of us and to really be reflected on just strengths.  I think what some people would call sometimes our talent, is a combination of strengths, skills, and experiences altogether in a meaningful way to build some of the things that you are the most talented to do in life hopefully and build from that strength.  What I love about your counsel is that reverse self-portrait and really create that strong, deep relationship with others that I spend time to actually share those moments with you and do the same with them, so that’s certainly a great action on my side now, each one of them, to thank them in return for what they’ve done actually.  I’d like to finish with a question in my mind, Kim, which is also animating me in terms of my foundation and in terms of working with Microsoft and in different instances.  You know, and at the time where all the world is going into all kind of crazy movements, whether it is the environmental change, whether it is war in Ukraine now which is so deeply sad, and many other developments.  I believe that more than ever, you know, we need to equip each one of us whatever is a role actually in society and business and families, communities to equip ourselves with a deep meaning in our lives.  So what it be for listeners your three pieces of advice for them to create such a positive meaning in their lives again, team community organization.  What would that be?


KIM CAMERON:  So I’ll share one, and I’m going to use a description of a research study.  In this study, the participants were multiple sclerosis patients, MS patients.  In this study, half of these patients were assigned to receive a phone call once a week from somebody expressing love, support, and concern to them.  The other half of these people were assigned to place a phone call to someone else expressing love, support, and concern to them.  Two years later, they simple measured a whole bunch of dimensions, physical activity, hope, self-efficacy, depression, and so on.  Eightfold difference, those people who placed the phone call were eight times healthier than those people who received the phone call, eight times healthier.  And that’s, by the way, been replicated multiple times.  The point of that research is contributing to assisting someone else, providing benefit to someone rebounds to our own benefit.  We do better, so sort of advice number one is be a contributor, be a teacher.  We talk about lifelong learning, also be a lifelong teacher, helping someone else flourish.  Relationships matter a lot.  So having supportive, loving, uplifting relationships, everybody flourishes more.  In fact, this wonderful study I liked a lot, if you are significantly overweight, obese, the probability of dying early is 20%.  If you are an excessive drinker, alcohol, probability of dying early, 30%.  If you are a smoker, probability of dying early, 50%.  If you’re in poor social relationships, probability of dying early, 70%.  That is relationships trump the physiological factors that mostly drive our medicine and so on.  So relationships matter a lot, of course, and that’s of course what you are so good at, JP, and the rules of thumb that you’ve created are spectacular.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  Social relationships are so important, and there’s lots of useful tangible advice there from Kim.  Showing us practical ways to strengthen and deepen the ties to the people around us, so that we can energize them and help them to flourish.  Reflective Best Self-Feedback Process is a great place to start.  It really underlines the importance of taking the time to express gratitude to others openly and fully.  And, remember, when you do have negative feedback to give, do it in a way that builds a relationship rather than diminishes the relationship.  The three step model I talked about there with Kim provides a great template for how to do that.  Well, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kim, for this wonderful discussion we had together.  And, to me actually, having a dialogue with you after reading your books many years back and doing work with it actually, trying to impact positively other peoples’ lives hopefully is all about what you just did, which is about making positive leadership real and moving from dreaming, as you said, to achieving more through flourishing relationships.  So for all of our listeners, Kim, thank you so much deeply.  And, again, take care, and I wish you the very best in your next steps.


KIM CAMERON:  Thank you, JP.  Thanks so very much for allowing me to spend some time with you.


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:  You’ve been listening to Positive Leadership Podcast, the series that will help you take your organization from doing okay to flourishing.  I’m Jean-Philippe Courtois, JP.  And, if you’ve enjoyed this program, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.