Overcoming negativity

Leadership is a tough job, and its made even tougher in the current economic climate, where organisations are increasingly expecting leaders to produce more with less. However, a difficult environment does not necessarily require a tough leadership style. Instead, a focus on strengths, hope and positive relationships can create more positive and sustainable outcomes.

Current research around Positive Organisational Scholarship has found people can be identified as either positive or negative energisers. Positive energisers uplift and boost the people around them, leaving others feeling motivated and enthusiastic. In contrast, negative energisers sap strength from others, leaving them feeling exhausted and diminished. Cross, Baker & Parker (2004) found that high performing organisations have three times as many positive energisers as average organisations.

So this got me thinking about how leaders can be more positive and in turn, create more high-performing organisations.

How to be a positive leader

The good news is that positive energy is not a personality trait, but rather a behavioural attribute. As such, leaders can develop the skills necessary to evoke more positive energy in their teams.

Here is a list of strategies for boosting your positive energy as a leader:

Use an appreciative inquiry approach in team meetings and interactions with others. To do this, start by asking: What is currently working? What are you most proud of this week/quarter? What problem have you been able to solve? or What are your strengths, and how can you use them to overcome this setback?

Identify, encourage and reward positive energisers in your team. Invest in their development and ensure they have the right resources to impact as many people in the network as possible.

Be a model of positive energy yourself by first being aware of your own patterns of negativity and start identifying situations, people or actions that impact on your energy, mood or emotions. Second, accept that inevitably certain situations, people or actions will impact you and quite possibly start you on a down spiral into negativity. Third, come to terms with the fact that you have no control over such situations, however, know that you have the power to chose how you wish to react. Chose to be trustworthy, unselfish and uplift others.

Make an effort to foster positive relationships at work by supporting others and showing genuine interest in their work endeavours.

The path to being a positive leader might not come naturally to some, however it is skill that can be developed and nurtured.