How Positive Psychology Can Help Your Organization


In her Personality Matters series, Leslie Sachs examines the personalities and people-issues that are found in technology groups from cross-functional, high-performance teams to dysfunctional matrix organizations.

Positive psychology is providing a useful framework for understanding the traits that lead to success, both at an organizational level and also for each of us individually. Much of what positive psychology advocates aligns well with agile methodologies and the agile mindset in which many organizations are finding to be so effective, especially in creating an environment where each stakeholder feels empowered to do the right thing and speak up when there are problems or barriers to success.

Quality management guru W. Edwards Deming noted long ago the importance of healthy behaviors, such as driving out fear, in order to ensure that your employees are willing to speak up and warn of potential issues [4]. Clearly, positive behaviors lead to highly effective teams and successful organizations. 

Positive psychology cannot solve every problem and there is no doubt that many organizations have cultures and environments that just do not foster success. However, if you are a technical leader (or wish to emerge as a technical leader), then understanding the significance and impact potential of encouraging positive traits is essential for your success. In future articles, I will discuss strategies for employing these techniques in the workplace. Helping your organization to embrace and cultivate positive and effective behaviors will increase the productivity and success of every endeavors.


[1] Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14

[2] Seligman, Martin. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, Free Press, New York 2002

[3] Abramson, L. Y.; Seligman, M. E. P.; Teasdale, J. D. (1978). "Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation". Journal of Abnormal Psychology 87

[4] Deming, W. Edwards (1986). Out of the Crisis. MIT Press

[5] Aiello, Bob and Leslie Sachs. 2010. Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World. Addison-Wesley Professional.

User Comments

Ben Linders's picture

Positive psychology can help people in organizations in many ways. One way of applying positive psychology is to use solution focused in a strengths based retrospective. It helps teams to become better in the things that they are doing great and improve themselves by focusing on their individual and team strengths.

December 12, 2013 - 1:58pm
Nadia Makhnovskiy Linares's picture

Thank you Leslie!


I was so pleasantly surprised to find here an article on Positive Psychology. I recently completed PP college course and it greatly contributed to deeper understanding of myself and the people around me. 


If someone is interested to identify their strongest and weakest sides (24 strengths discussed in the article), the VIA Inventory of strengths survey is available for free at


The 1-5 strengths are your strongest sides. The 5 bottom "strengths" (19-24) are more your weaknesses, which might need some personal work.


I find it useful to retake the survey once in a while to monitor the personal progress.













December 24, 2013 - 6:29pm

About the author

Leslie  Sachs's picture Leslie Sachs

Leslie Sachs is a New York state certified school psychologist and the COO of Yellow Spider, Inc. ( Leslie is the coauthor of Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World, Addison-Wesley Professional ( Ms. Sachs has more than twenty years of experience in the psychology field and has worked in a variety of clinical and business settings where she has provided many effective interventions designed to improve the social and educational functioning of both individuals and groups. Ms. Sachs has an M.S. in School Psychology from Pace University and interned in Bellevue's Psychiatric Center in New York city. A firm believer in the uniqueness of every individual, she has recently done advanced training with Mel Levine's "All Kinds of Minds" Institute. She may be reached at, or link with her

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