Fun fact 8: Positive leadership improves employee creativity

It’s hard to be creative when you’re stressed. In fact, a study on the cognitive science of creativity (by Arne Dietrich) has shown you need to be in the right emotional state to think creatively. Stress shuts lateral thinking ability down. So it makes sense that leaders who promote positive workplace cultures will foster creativity in their teams.

Here’s an example of how being a positive leader creates a happier work environment. A study of leadership in the business Burt’s Bees showed employees with positive leaders were motivated to learn more. They also were more creative. This happened when two conditions were in place. First, leaders showed that they valued and respected their employees. Second, they encouraged employees to have fun and engage in team-building activities. This broke up the pattern of everyday work and creativity levels skyrocketed as a result.


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This study is a simple example of the impact positive leadership can have on team success. It’s the sort of case study that fascinates positive psychology trainers, because it shows how easy shaping organisational culture can be. If you want a happier, more creative team, start applying the principles of positive psychology and learned optimism. There’s ample evidence that they work.


About the author of this fun fact:

Eleanor Shakiba is a positive psychology trainer. She has helped over 50,000 people to build confidence, presence and impact at work. Her passion is working with the ‘positive deviants’ in organisations – equipping them to think creatively and produce exceptional results. Eleanor is the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D practitioners. She also runs a range of retreats and workshops for trainers and facilitators.