Three Life-Changing Leadership Ratios They Don’t Teach You in Finance Class

Three Life-Changing Leadership Ratios They Don’t Teach You in Finance Class

Here’s a quick exercise:  Choose any person in your work life or personal life.  Now think back to the last few interactions you had with that person.  Recall what was said and classify your list into two groups.

What interactions, comments, and questions did you have with your chosen person that were negative?  Here are some examples of things that are in the “negative” group:

  • Being late
  • Forgetting something
  • Complaining about something (not just them, it could be the weather or traffic)
  • Not following through on a promise
  • Getting angry, even if it’s not at them
  • Feeling frustration or saying something that generates their frustration
  • Telling someone what to do in a bossy sort of way
  • Mentioning negative news
  • Feeling sad, depressed or tired
  • Talking about how busy you are

Next, what interactions, comments, and questions did you have with your chosen person that are positive?  Here are some examples of things that are in the “positive” group:

  • Compliments
  • Nice surprises
  • Favors
  • Laughing together
  • Telling stories
  • Sharing a meal
  • Telling a joke
  • Smiling, or feeling happy or energetic
  • Supportive talk, encouragement
  • Attentive listening

Count the number of positive interactions and the number of negative interactions.  Then make a ratio.

# positive interactions : # negative interactions

What did it come out to be?  Were there more positive interactions or negative ones?

Now you have a ratio.  Compute the number of positive interactions divided by the number of negative interactions.  Let’s say you counted 8 positive interactions and 4 negative interactions.  Your ratio is 8/4 or 2:1.  Your positivity ratio with this person is 2:1.

Is 2:1 good?  Actually, no.

Science has proven we need to experience many more positive interactions than negative interactions in our lives in order to feel like we are flourishing.  Our emotions are not symmetric: we feel negative emotions much more strongly than we feel positive emotions.  So we need to have many more positive interactions than negative to make up for this difference in feeling.

Scientists have defined the minimum level of thriving as 3:1 for acquaintances and friend, but it needs to be 5:1 for significant others and close team members.  Anything below these numbers is surviving and coping, and not thriving.  You can overdo it to:  anything above 11:1, and you probably don’t have a very realistic relationship!  This is the work of John Gottman, Marcial Losada, and Barbara Fredrickson.

When you can become aware of your positivity ratio for your clients, team members, and business partners, you can then decide if you need to take action to change it.  Getting good at being positive is another skill you can easily pick up, and when you do, it can make all the difference in your success with others.

If you liked this article, you’ll love our new Brain Food for Accounting Leaders Series starting January 9, 2014:  https://accountantsaccelerator.com/products/brain-food-accounting/

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