"In 2002 one of the British Royal Navy's ships ran aground, triggering the largest and most dangerous flooding incident in recent years. The Royal Navy’s investigating board of inquiry found that “morale remained high” throughout demanding hours of damage control and that “teams were cheerful and enthusiastic,” focusing on their tasks; “sailors commented that the presence, leadership, and good humor of senior officers gave reassurance and confidence that the ship would survive.” Turning up and being cheerful, in other words, had a practical benefit." Andrew St. George, 'Lessons from the Royal Navy'
That's an excellent article on the Navy's surprising use of 'soft' leadership techniques.
Positive work environments come from positive leaders. So how does one create such an environment? Research shows it comes down to these 4 points:
1. Foster social connections.
Toxic, stress-filled working relationships have a huge negative impact on mental and physical health.
2. Show empathy and humor.
Make jokes, ask after people, share stories, LISTEN.
3. Go out of your way to help.
Self-sacrificing acts foster loyalty. And it encourages employees to go out of their way for each other.
4. Encourage people to talk to you – especially about their problems.
Be inclusive and humble, and look to establish a safe culture for your employees. Avoid blame and forgive mistakes.
"As a leader, whatever industry you are in, you are in the energy business. Remember that whatever energy you bring to your work will be noticed and amplified. You personal attitude is a huge part of the energy you inject into your team and organization." Kevin Eikenberry, 'Leaders Must Have a Positive Attitude'