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Flow-Promoting Leadership

October 2, 2019

What is Flow?


I'm grateful to have spent the large part of my career in and around high level Olympic athletes that spend a great deal of time in or chasing Flow States.

 

Flow is the term used by researchers for optimal states of consciousness, those peak moments of total absorption where self vanishes, time flies, and all aspects of performance go through the roof. This is due to the brain taking in more information per second and processing more deeply. Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, where we feel and perform our best.

 

 

 

It was University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who selected this term, and he did so for a reason. In the 1970s, Csikszentmihalyi embarked upon what would soon become one of the largest psychological surveys ever, running around the world asking people about the times in their life when they felt their best and performed their best.

 

Everyone he spoke to, regardless of culture, class, gender, age or level of modernization, felt and performed their best when they were experiencing the state he named “flow.” Csikszentmihalyi chose this term because, when interviewing research subjects, “flow” was the word that kept popping up. In the state, every action, every decision, led seamlessly, fluidly to the next. In other words, flow actually feels flowy.

 

 

What is Flow-Promoting Leadership?

 

Flow is not isolated to just action sports, it's ubiquitous meaning that it can show up in anyone & anywhere. While most people enjoy working when it provides Flow, too few jobs are designed to make Flow possible. This is where management can make a real difference. 

 

For a manager or leader who truly cares about the bottom line in the broadest sense of that term, the first priority is to eliminate obstacles to Flow at all levels of the organisation. To substitute practices and policies that are designed to make work enjoyable.

 

Our jobs determine to a larger extent what our lives are like. A business organization whose employees are happy is more productive and has a higher moral. Any manager who wants his or her organization to prosper should understand what makes people happy, and implement that knowledge as effectively as possible.

 

The best way management can help motivate workers to pursue common goals and grow in the process of doing so, is by providing opportunities for Flow in the workplace. There are many flow triggers, but some of the essential conditions for Flow are:

 

  • Clear goals that can be adapted to meet changing conditions

  • Immediate feedback to one’s actions

  • A matching of the challenges of the job with the worker’s skills.

 

 

 

Csikszentmihalyi’s many publications relating to Flow always include statements and discussions of his set of values. The values he promotes reflect his fundamental philosophy of life and its meaning and purpose. At the same time, the values he advocates area also of the kind that, if implemented well, would enhance the satisfaction of individuals (in their private lives and as employees), would improve organizational performance (broadly defined), and would also move people toward greater social harmony within the organization, the nation, and perhaps beyond.

 

Evidence shows that adopting Flow-promoting leadership values and practices yields two types of substantial, linked benefits whether the context is managing oneself, interacting with others, or leading a team or an organization.

 

Benefit 1

The first benefit comes from improving the life satisfaction of self, as well as of those individuals who are exposed, directly or indirectly, to others who are conducting themselves in synch with Flow theory’s simple precepts.

 

Benefit 2

The second, complementary benefit of a Flow-promoting work environment is that it improves the multi-dimensional performance of the team, the unit, or the organization, as compared with a hypothetical situation in which no attention is paid to Flow-promoting practices or (and especially) if the group is being managed dysfunctionally from a Flow perspective.

 

Multidimensional performance means measuring accomplishments not only via profits (in the case of not-for-profit entities, “surplus”) but by also taking into account such other aspects of performance as employee satisfaction and engagement, the sustainability of operations, and protection of the environment.

 

“Good Business” means an enjoyable, Flow-promoting work environment for an organisation’s workers, through which a business’ (or any organization’s) “balanced scorecard” improves, thereby contributing to healthier and more sustainable societies at large.

 

High Performance Sport to High Performance Business

 

A key concept to leadership development is the identification of those competencies that are particularly important for helping to generate and maintain Flow at the workplace.

 

Leadership starts with you – who you are, what you care about, and what you want to see happen. 

 

We deliver a 4 phase programme into conscious businesses looking to evolve purpose and high performance:

 

Phase 1 - High Quality Management of Stress

Phase 2 - Flow
Phase 3 - Conscious Leadership

Phase 4 - Performance Planning

 

For more information contact: richard@husseinyperformance.com / https://www.husseinyperformance.com

 

I also speak at events to different audiences large and small on these topics: https://www.husseinyperformance.com/speaking

 

 

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