The Cure for Sad Organizations

Vibrant organizations build on positives.

Sad organizations are led by leaders who focus on what’s wrong.


Not so bad after all:

Those who focus on ugliness become ugly themselves.

I listened to a negative leader speaking negatively of an employee. After listening to complaints and disappointments for a few minutes, I asked, “What good things are they doing?”


He was so comfortable with a negative focus that a positive focus felt like tight shoes. Then, he began telling me about the good things the employee was doing.

After a few minutes, he said, “Maybe he isn’t so bad after all.”


Is there room for improvement? Of course! But, improvement is joyful. Correction and complaining, on the other hand, hurt.

Is there ever a time to correct or confront? Of course! Just don’t make a career of it.

Correction in a positive light:

Focus less on what went wrong and more on making things better.

“How can we make this better,” sounds better than, “You screwed up.”

Addicted to sadness:

Sadness is safe because weakness and sadness are bedfellows.

The sadder you feel the weaker you feel. When you feel blue, for example, you want to lay around. As long as you feel weak, you don’t have to improve your world. You can blame lousy employees and negative circumstances.

The cousin of happiness is strength.

Happiness challenge:

Those who focus on beauty become beautiful themselves.

Focus on beauty and excellence more than ugliness and imperfection. The shift may be hard to take. Start slowly.

Take a daily “happiness walkabout.” Dedicate 15 minutes a day to walking around looking for things that are beautiful and excellent. When you spot something, praise it right then.

How might leaders raise the happiness level in their organizations?