Go with the Flow

Just over two decades ago, world-renowned psychologist and professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi published his findings on flow – “an almost effortless yet highly focused state of consciousness” [1]. In his work, Csikszentmihalyi described flow to be a state in which the individual is engrossed in the task at hand, often losing touch with fears of failure, self-conscious thoughts, and other distractions; which, he concluded, leads individuals to feel more happy, creative and engaged.

What weight does this idea of flow carry for organizations, leaders and managers today? Simply put, individuals who find their flow are more productive, innovative and happy. Leaders and managers can work to create environments for their employees and teams to facilitate flow-like experiences on a daily basis. Below are a few suggestions to supporting flow in the workplace:

  • Eliminate distractions. Leaders and managers can initiate email-free periods of the day to allow their team members to more fully and presently engage in their work.
  • Set clear goals. Since flow is often associated with creative problem solving or pursuing opportunities to close the gap between unmet expectations, teams facing problems need a clear goal to work toward to guide their problem-solving energy.
  • Provide frequent feedback. By offering comments on how others might improve their performance – even in the simplest of ways – leaders and managers help their employees and teams by reducing some of the guesswork in problem solving and providing a path forward.

How do you experience flow? Offer your comments below:

[1] Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Happiness and creativity: Going with the flow. Futurist, 31, 5.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.