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What is Positive Leadership and why is it important?

With “Positive,” it means having a positive mindset, while at the same time, staying with both feet firmly in reality and keep checking the facts. Let’s dive into the topic of positive leadership – what it is, why it matters, and how you and your organisation can benefit from it?


Simple Yet Compelling

The simplicity of positive leadership always questioned me, yet research shows compelling results on how much of a difference it can make when applying it. If you’re a leader, you have a direct effect on the lives of others at an amazingly powerful level. If you’re a co-worker, you also have a direct effect on those around you. The same with if you’re a consultant, coach or any other professional.

Positive leadership, in a way, has a vastly strong faith that there will be enough for everyone. It pursues to enlarge the pie so that everyone can win more, instead of dividing it into parts resulting in winners and losers.

Most of us have a habit to aim for fixing a problem to go back to normal. Positive leadership aims for positive deviance, to exceed expectations, and live up to our greatest potential as a person and as an organisation. Positive leadership tries to stretch what seems possible without mistreating people:

  • It appreciates people for their unique contributions;
  • It trusts people so that they will surprise you in a positive way;
  • It means acknowledging good things and actions;
  • It connects with and cares for people by coaching people as well as stimulating them with compliments.


Choose Your Positivity Level

With all the “I hate Mondays” memes on social media, I think we’re all familiar with how much we and others dread going to work on Monday because their “industrial age-organisation” makes them suffer or barely survive. According to research, negativity leads to zero engagement and a lack of 30% in productivity. In contrast, happy employees are 31% more productive and three times more creative.

All combined, these research numbers state that 80% of the workforce is producing 31% less than what they are capable of. Unfortunately, this results in missed opportunities, both financially and in terms of happiness. But we shouldn’t shove the blame completely to the boss, the old-fashioned workplace or that gloomy shithole job – it’s too easy to blame outside factors with nothing to gain from. The thing is, everyone can take ownership of their life when they realise that 50% of their happiness is inherited, as mentioned in the book ‘The How of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

All your life events and circumstances, both negative and positive events such as the death of a loved one and winning the lottery, add up to only 10% of the variance in your happiness level. That lousy project and that numbing organisation don’t have to bring you down.

Aside from your genetic inheritance and what life throws at you, which are out of your control, you still control 40% of your personal happiness, which is a big number within your control. Just imagine what you can accomplish with that 40% by adopting a positive mindset and applying positive leadership to yourself and others around you.


Why Is It Important?

The amygdala in our brains, which is the integrative centre for emotions, emotional behaviour, and motivation, scans the environment for potential dangers. It is always active and stimulates the “fight and flight” hormones. Whenever we judge something as a threat, we will focus on it which narrows our scope. Furthermore, it affects our creativity and ability to think of creative solutions.

In contrast, our normal vision offers a 180-degree panoramic view, but under stress, this is reduced. Stress creates tunnel vision and makes us vulnerable to decision errors, jumping to conclusions, getting defensive and worse. Moreover, it spreads to co-workers and the whole office.

When we get overstressed, we invest most of our energy to keep things afloat. Positive leadership is crucial in such times to keep the team together, set the mood of the workplace and create a long-term culture over time.

So, how can leaders increase positivity? Steve Gladis breaks it down in the following:


1. Get Social

We have to be social to stay happy and healthy because people have a need to bond with other people. That means making time for family, friends and co-workers, and not just focusing on targets and work deadlines.

According to researcher Marcel Losada, people need a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions to sustain a healthy relationship; a 2:1 ratio produces a shallow relationship; and a 1:1 ratio means you’re in danger of breaking up.

Building relationships come from both sides, you and your boss. It’s the most critical relationship outside of your family. So, get to know them, find similarities and help each other out. It all comes down to caring for people and giving them attention, having frequent communication and asking loads of questions.


2. Get Strong At Work

Positive leadership requires getting strong at work. It’s a state where you’re required to know yourself, what you need, and what makes you happy. When you’re there, you can arrange your work and career around your strengths to become more positive, happy and effective.

Being aware of your weaker points also benefits, and you may discover even more appreciation for diversity in your team.


3. Positive Activities

With positive activities, it is focused on your physical, mental and emotional health as a leader or co-worker. Think of getting enough sleep, watching your diet and exercise. Make yourself peaceful with meditation and mindfulness. This might sound easy, but it requires time and effort. It’s not a one-day thing, but rather a lifestyle.

Now, take your energised and positive self to work and practice kindness, optimism, and gratitude with your team. Some well-known pieces of advice are: celebrate successes; start meetings with a positive moment where everyone shares something they like; ask your team to write down three good things about other team members.

From personal experience, this won’t work in every culture right away. It’s especially tricky in a multicultural team, so it may take searching and testing to find something that fits you and your team.


What If Positivity Is Hard?

It’s not always easy and it’s common in a corporate environment not to do kindness. However, we can raise others and choose positive leadership anyway – It takes courage. You may be labelled as puny, idealistic, or you may even be ridiculed. How positivity is perceived, highly depends on the culture and the leadership team.

Yet, positive leadership starts with one person showing human kindness and offering a positive perspective. Are you going to be that example?


  • Do you like your job?
  • What do you think of your boss?
  • How is the organisational environment?


Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Check out this related post: 7 Practices Of Successful Leaders And How They Are Transformative