Positivity can become toxic in organizations…. when it becomes that relentless positivity.
I call it pollyanna-ing it.
Lots of organizations are suffering from this. I hear about it from many of you.
Being upbeat and positive is a good thing, of course.
But it becomes toxic when it ignores what’s really going on at a deeper level.
That’s superficial positivity.
When there’s too much positivity, organizations tend to dwell at the surface.
The necessary difficult conversations don’t happen. Underlying issues are ignored and glossed over. People’s emotions, struggles and experiences are denied, dismissed, or invalidated.
For the sake of peace (positivity) that isn’t real.
It’s toxic to be in that environment. Harmful to your mental health. You lose your voice. You start feeling bad about feeling bad. You start to doubt yourself and your experience.
It’s also very bad for the organization. Not only is it missing out on the many opportunities and knowledge of engaged people, but it’s also often lulled itself into a false sense of security.
‘Things are awesome’ it says. ‘We’re firing on 99 cylinders.’
All while missing critical feedback and information that could take them down.
There’s a better and more effective way to lead. Leadership today involves engaging peoples’ emotions and imagination.
You can’t do that from a place of relentless positivity.
It’s starts with changing the relationship to your inner experience.
Neither getting snagged by or suppressing inner experiences. No longer trying to eliminate the negative means learning to listen and accept all kinds of thoughts and emotions without being taken down by them or having to fix or get rid of them.
That’s when authenticity begins to take hold. And all its benefits.