Correlation Between Positivity & Business Performance

By Alexis Phillips


Interesting and fundamental research on the correlation between positivity and business performance was conducted by Marcial Losada and Emily Heaphy in 2004, when they studied The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams.*

In their study, the interactions of 60 business teams were observed during meetings and thousands of behaviors and characteristics were “coded” in a capture lab in terms of these ratios:

Other: Self
Inquiry: Advocacy
Positivity: Negativity

The business teams were also subdivided into three performance levels (High, Medium, Low) based on extensive business performance data. These data consisted of measures of profitability (SBU profit and loss statements), customer satisfaction (surveys and interviews) and 360-degree evaluations (assessments of the team members by superiors, peers, and subordinates). The observers who “coded” the teams’ behaviors did not know the performance levels of the teams at the time of coding.

High performing teams, based on the business measures, also had a Pos/Neg ratio of 5.614 and maintained a balance of Inquiry: Advocacy and Other: Self throughout the whole meeting(s) in which they were observed.

Medium performing teams had a Pos/Neg ratio of 1.855 and the balance of Inquiry: Advocacy and Other: Self was maintained throughout the meeting(s) until the last quarter at which time they ended in a disequilibrium toward Advocacy and Self.

Low performing teams had a Pos/Neg ratio of .363 (more negativity than positivity) and were highly unbalanced toward Advocacy and Self from early in the meeting(s).

TCI’s Team Diagnostic™ model and team coaching methodology clearly aligns with this study’s findings. We know that in order for teams to be sustainably Productive, they need to have a balance of Positivity, and vice versa.

The Team Diagnostic model measures the team as a system and focuses on the whole (Other) versus the individual (Self).

Our team coaching methodology has the coach and team exercise curiosity and empathy (Inquiry) versus attachment to “my way” (Advocacy). And TCI’s strength-based model is focused on creating a beneficial ratio of Positivity to Negativity via (to name a few): healthy Communication, Constructive Interaction, Strategic Alignment around Goals, appropriate Decision-Making processes in which Diversity is Valued, and deliberate team agreements in which Optimism, Respect and Trust (for example) are consciously nurtured and feedback is provided when agreements are not being fully honored.

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