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RE: Leadership: The Effect of Generosity and Positive Energy & Management of Negative Energy

Dear Colleagues:

Enclosed are three very short articles on the softer side of Leadership. These three articles from Harvard Business Review (HBR) demonstrate with good scientific evidence, the impact leaders can have not only on those they lead, but also on the success of their company’s bottom line.

Employee Negativity Is Like Wildfire. Manage It Before It Spreads
. - HBS Working Knowledge

The Best Leaders Have a Contagious Positive Energy
Download PDF • 1.27MB

Do We Underestimate the Importance of Generosity in Leadership - HBS Working Knowledge
Download PDF • 526KB

Unfortunately, in my opinion, most of us working as healthcare providers don’t always see these principles applied in our profession organizations. I think these three articles focus mainly on start-ups and corporate entities outside of healthcare. In fact, the current post-pandemic world in which we live (especially in the USA) has evolved creating additional stressors including a wide-spread trend for our organizations to grow through merger and acquisition, private equity acquisition, and other forms of alignment. This can challenge the structure and culture in which we live when it comes to the question of leadership. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast.” (Peter Drucker) I have observed in the large academic medical center in which I work, that this is truer than ever now.

But we can all take heart that once we recognize the problem, perhaps we can become part of the solution. For example, as stated in the article by Kristin Senz, we can regulate our own emotions and in doing so help turn down the volume of a group negativity. In this way we can become an asset to leadership and lead without a title in our own organizations.

In the article by Seppala and Cameron, they have observed that the greatest predictor of success for leaders is not charisma, influence, or power….it is “positive relational energy.” People like this are called “positive energizers”. Their behavior cultivates “virtuous actions including forgiveness, generosity, kindness and trust” as well as others. In fact, the authors found that “leaders like this are the most important factor accounting for an organization’s performance.” They found that such organizational cultures can account for up to a 4x performance in profit and shareholder return when compared with similar organizations which lack such a culture. Think what we might do in our own healthcare organizations if we could have such a culture of leadership.

You know these kinds of leaders. They make you feel energized after you interact with them. They have a genuine generosity and energy that makes you feel heard and leaves you feeling that you have a true “servant leader” guiding you and your coworkers. Sadly, sometimes we are victims of culture and core values that don’t allow us to be effective leaders. When this happens, we owe it to those we lead to call out those above us who are tasked with leadership.

Finally, in his article, Haskett states “Leaders of organizations emphasizing servant leadership (and generosity) have a kind of peace of mind.” In fact, “generosity is a source of happiness” and wouldn’t we want to have this ourselves? In fact, long-term success of organizations has been shown to be associated with this quality in our leaders. Those without it may be successful, but often only in the short term.

I hope you find this information useful. For more articles and comments of interest on leadership, especially in healthcare, check out my other posts on the “Warner’s Corner” blog on the Codman Shoulder Society website.

Kind Regards,

Jon “JP” Warner MD

Founder, The CSS


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