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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dering Mock

Are You Positive?

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

When describing leaders who have been particularly effective, people often use words like positive, upbeat, optimistic, and enthusiastic. They refer to the contagious nature of a positive mindset in leading. (Unfortunately, they also speak from experience to the contagious nature to a negative mindset.)

A positive mindset is the conceptual framework in which we understand life and human enterprise. It assumes progress, solutions, reconciliation and success. It is reflected in the language a leader uses: constructive, progress, headway, and optimistic. And, it is reflected in the attitude of a leader: confident, encouraged, encouraging and hopeful. The glass is definitely half full!

So, how does a leader convey positivity and capitalize on its infectious nature?

1. Lead More, Languish Less When people are discouraged, they need leaders who do not allow them to wallow, but rather build on what works, envision success and move forward. Savvy leaders understand the value of using positive language, conveying optimism and confidence in the team's ultimate success.

2. Lead More, Lament Less There is nothing worse than the downward spiral of negative language: the language of doom. Leaders do not tolerate whining, complaining, or blaming in themselves or others. They understand how draining this can be and nip it artfully in the bud.

3. Lead More, Sow Doubt Less "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right." In the words of Henry Ford, we find a simple lesson for leaders: your assumptions, words, and expectations can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for you and for your team. This is not over-the-top cheerleading, but the way a leader conveys confidence in the ability of the team to overcome obstacles.

4. Lead More, Deplete Less The leader's mindset can affect a team's energy and commitment, both positively and negatively. Skilled leaders read the team's enthusiasm level and work to deliberately recharge their energy. Through encouragement, support, recognition and envisioning success, they recharge, rather than deplete, their team's energy.

The mindset, assumptions, language and actions of the leader are critical factors in what is sometimes referred to as morale or climate of a team, and ultimately, in its performance. Leaders are challenged to capitalize on the contagion of positivity, leading with optimism, confidence and energy.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you experienced a positive mindset in a leader? How did he or she radiate positivity? Would you agree that a positive mindset is contagious?

  2. Have you experienced a negative mindset in a leader? How did he or she radiate negativity? Would you agree that a negative mindset is contagious?

  3. How can leaders limit languishing and lamenting in themselves and others?

  4. Describe ways in which leaders can capitalize on the contagion of positivity.

  5. What are the implications for leaders? For you?

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