Dr Suzy Green: On business psychology

When 30 years of independent and academic research backs you and your life’s work up, you know you’re onto something. Dr Suzy Green coaches solopreneurs and national organisations alike how to hard-wire ‘thriving’ into their culture using positive psychology.

Trailblazing founder of the Positivity Institute (Pi), Dr Suzy Green, put ‘positive psychology’ on the Australian academic and coaching map in 2003 when she conducted a world-first ‘Applied Positive Psychology’ study (published 2016). The petite 54-year-old maintains that the level a business exists directly reflects the level of its leaders personal development.

“Your business can only develop to the level that you’ve invested into your own personal development. If you don’t address the unconscious reactive patterns, where the same (personal) buttons keep getting pushed, this stops your business going to the next level.

“By investing in yourself upfront you’re ensuring that you’re going to make it through the marathon that business is, and you’re not going to collapse come year two or three when the risk factors don’t break your way. This allows you to bring your vision to fruition,” she says.

From solopreneurs to large corporations, businesses have common pain points; left unchecked they can cause discomfort at best, atrophy or closure at worst. Positive psychology coaching moves individuals and organisations beyond their limitations, it increases their productivity so they can flourish and thrive.

“A common high stress trigger for all business, but particularly entrepreneurs and micro businesses, is cash flow. It’s extremely stressful and tricky because often finances are tight and they’re investing everything into the business. Investing in themselves often isn’t factored in.

“I suggest to make it a priority to get some professional help or coaching, around determining not just what you want to do with the business, but who you need to be. Not to just survive in business but to thrive in the process,” she says.

Dr Suzy has met all the usual demands and challenges that come to all entrepreneur’s herself, from growing her own startup to a small business successfully. She understands the stress factors first hand.

“We know entrepreneurs have high levels of optimism which is a reason that they go there but on the other side of that, to their detriment, is they don’t expect things to go wrong or they fail to foresee the risks ahead. Coaching helps you focus on a game plan, potential obstacles, performance as well as well-being, and resilience.

“When I did my doctorate on coaching, I had a coach! I was the first to submit my work out of the small group, and arguably the least stressed. I also had a business coach from New York when I established the Positivity Institute in Sydney,” she recounts.

Dr Suzy Green: On business psychology

Grow your personal agency

Resilience, well-being, thriving and flourishing feature in the Positivity institutes programs; ‘Flourishing at work, Positivity at work and Creating a positive workplace’.

Working with a team of employees and leaders, they (Pi) suggest participants consider the content from a personal perspective first.

Dr Suzy explains, “Some people have major epiphones that they’ve been taking other people for granted or that they’re working too hard, sometimes it clicks that they’re really not eating well.

“Often the biggest initial ‘ah-ha’s’ and takeaways are around the impact of their behaviour on their families.”

The Positivity Institute works collaboratively with organisations, embedding positive psychology into the workplace across departments, in team meetings and at an individual level.

“The power of it is that it’s like a cultural change program, and that’s why it is so successful and it’s sustainable because people take ownership of it and make it their own. Our preference is to work with organisations over a twelve month period, coaching the leadership team and really hard wiring the learning into their culture, and this takes time.

“We’ve worked with organisations over a five year period and they really fly,” she says.

With leadership teams they (Pi) go deeper into raising awareness of bringing positive psychology elements into their leadership style.

“It’s increasingly important, and a hot topic for leaders, to become more mindful leaders, aware of their mindset, their biases and stereotypes.

“One on one executive leadership coaching helps leaders personalise their learning, by acknowledging what they’re doing well and setting goals on what they want to work on. We help them transfer that knowledge into their professional and personal lives, soon they implement positive changes and start interacting in a more positive way,” Dr Suzy says.

A colleague of Dr Suzy’s, Professor Aaron Jarden from Melbourne University, gives a simple way to apply positive psychology in the workplace as ‘Me, we, us’. What can I do at an individual ‘me’ level, at the team leader ‘we’ level, and the ‘us’ refers to across a department or organisation.”

Dr Suzy Green: On business psychology

Global trends

Over 4,000 people attended the Global Happiness and Well-being World Government Summit in Dubai in February 2019, where they covered off on artificial intelligence, digital technology, health and medicine – of which happiness and well-being was a part.

She confirms that the research overwhelming supports the strong link between employee well-being and business performance. It’s well acknowledged across the field of positive psychology that out of all the factors that impact our well-being, our relationships have the biggest positive effect.

“The point is to be proactive around your own well-being, your resilience and your performance whether you’re a solopreneur, entrepreneur, a leader in a small or large organisation.

“You can’t argue with 30 years of independent and academic research,” she says.

So how do you equip your team with the skills to improve their well-being?

A senior colleague of Dr Suzy’s teaches at the Cambridge Institute of Well-being commented on what enables flourishing. She said, ‘Suzy, it’s increasingly coming down to compassion for self and others, and kindness as well’. These little simple things make a big difference.

“So invest in yourself as a solopreneur, entrepreneur or as a leader, and be mindful to prioritise relationships; keep compassion and kindness top of mind in all your interactions,” Dr Suzy Green finishes.

The Positivity Institute has just launched a digital program called the ‘Positivity Prescription’.

Positivity Institute manifesto is, ‘We help the world to flourish by creating meaningful and sustainable positive change in individuals, schools and workplaces. We’re the recognised world leaders in applying cutting-edge scientific research to sustainably transform wellbeing’. Dr Suzy Green, Founder & CEO, The Positivity Institute.

The Positivity Institute (PI) is a positively deviant organisation dedicated to the research and practice of wellbeing science for life, school and work.


Kerwin Rae