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Positivity, Orange & Optimism


In recent articles, we explored the results of conversations with senior leaders on the ways they have managed crisis and change.

Those conversations provided us with clear evidence that a positive mindset is key to navigating personal and professional challenges.

We heard this to be true for leaders spanning diverse sectors and styles.

But we also felt this to be true for ourselves.

Our conversations reaffirmed our belief in positivity – through our personal commitments, and in all dimensions of our business at Spark including our leadership coaching practice.

Positivity anchors all that we do, in pandemic times and beyond.

The cornerstones

In many ways, the most important aspects of positivity are the least technical.

Echoing the results of our Covid leadership conversations, a recent contributor to the Forbes Coaches Council described five keys to maintaining a positive mindset.

Find laughter, and the energy it brings. Act with – and appreciate – gratitude at the start and close of every day.

Stay connected to those who mean the most, and build connections through every avenue, personal and virtual.

Contribute your time, thought, expertise and financial support in ways that make a difference, and grow yourself through learning, new projects and exploration.

The actions

Along with this practiced mindset, positivity is grounded in action.

A June article in the Harvard Business Review, titled What Leading With Optimism Really Looks Like, proposed that the best time to be actively positive may be when the outlook is darkest.

But in its case analysis of a U.S. hospital and its successful shift to positivity-first programs, HBR also outlined a critical leadership responsibility.

Whether in starting conversations, attending workshops, tracking progress or affirming priorities, positivity starts with taking direct action.

In this case, active support enabled new programs to grow in dynamic ways: praise and recognition routines, collaborative processes to rethink and rebuild work processes, new programs to embed celebration and gratitude within and across teams. Even recasting the physical space, using the colour orange as a symbol of positive change on everything from clinical unit walls to oxygen carts.

The results for that organization? Dramatic change in team engagement, motivation, satisfaction and retention. Huge customer impact, as measured through patient experience tracking. And financial success – a fivefold increase in profitability.

The approach

In the HBR article, we found it a fun coincidence that they highlighted orange as a positive symbol and that the hospital created “Spark Awards” to recognize acts of kindness.

A coincidence, but one that resonated.

Our own name and identity reflect similar motivations: to build hope and confidence, to represent an active approach to change and growth, and to bring a positive outlook to all that we do.

For those at the helm of companies and programs, for those making (and leading) transformations and, critically, for young leaders looking to forge a bright future, positive intelligence is key.

Watch for more to come on new programs at Spark, and on the ways we can help you combine disciplined thinking and concrete action to lead with a positive mindset.


Jill Roussy and Wendy Shaw are coaches, consultants, mentors and facilitators with extensive experience in large corporate environments as well as entrepreneurial settings. Together Jill and Wendy co-founded Spark Ideas Inc in 2003. Spark exists to help people, teams and brands thrive. 

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