NATNews Blog > July 2017 > Positive vs. negative leadership: 5 scenarios

    Positive vs. negative leadership: 5 scenarios

    7/6/2017 7:48:42 AM
    The average modern-day workplace is far from positive. Everybody is already tense and on edge due to work demands, stress, office politics, and the economy. Add in a pessimistic, angry leader, and you've got a bigger problem. In fact, a recent Gallup poll estimates that negativity costs the economy $250-300 billion a year and affects the morale, performance, and productivity of teams.
    If you're a leader, best-selling author Jon Gordon wants you to take this message to heart: Spreading negative energy solves nothing — in fact, it causes people to shut down. Morale suffers, employees disengage, productivity takes a hit and profits fall.
    "It's easy to get upset and derailed by anger when things go wrong, but then the issue gets lost because you mismanaged the situation," says Gordon, author of The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World.
    Gordon strongly believes in positive leadership, which means sharing optimism, hope, and inspiration with your team. Yes, even when — especially when — things go wrong. It also means not ignoring negativity within your organization. You must address the negativity, confront it, transform it, or remove it before it has a chance to breed and grow. This is the role of a positive leader.
    But here's the question: What does positive leadership look like in action? Gordon answers this question by presenting five common business scenarios that many leaders face.
    1. Your team member doesn't deliver their part of the project.
    • Negative leaders attack the person and focus on the past.
    • Positive leaders attack the problem and focus on the future.
    "Positive leaders should identify why the underperforming employee has not delivered and coach them to solve the problem and achieve success," says Gordon. "They have to be demanding without being demeaning. They both challenge and encourage their teams and organizations to continue to improve and get better."
    2. A salesperson consistently misses goals and makes excuses.
    • Negative leaders complain and blame.
    • Positive leaders identify opportunities.
     "It's important to help your team remember that there's always an opportunity for improvement," says Gordon. "Positive communicators encourage and inspire others to do more and become more than they ever thought possible. Positive leaders are great encouragers, and it's something the world needs more of. With so many people telling us we can't succeed, we need to hear people telling us we can.
    "Anyone pursuing anything worthwhile will fail and fail often," he adds. "I certainly have failed many times, but when I look back, I realize I wasn't failing; I was growing. I learned that you can dwell on the past or look forward to making the next opportunity great. You can see life as a game of failure or opportunity. It's all in how you see it."
    3. Your customer service employee has a history of being rude to customers
    • Negative leaders fire offending employees right away.
    • Positive leaders first seek to transform them.
    Employees who act out on the job are energy vampires. The first step in dealing with an energy vampire on your team is not to remove but to transform. These people are likely negative for a reason. The first steps should always be to listen with empathy and love, and try to understand and transform.
    "I have found that the best way to deal with energy vampires in your organization is at the culture level, where you set the expectation that people who drain the energy of others will not be tolerated," says Gordon. "You talk about the negative impact of negativity. You explain that one person can't make a team but one person can break a team. You talk about what a great culture looks like and how you want everyone to be a positive contributor to it."
    4. An employee shows values inconsistent with company culture
    • Negative leaders overlook inconsistencies and move on to other problems.
    • Positive leaders show love and accountability companywide.
    Former CEO Alan Mulally turned around Ford with both love and accountability. He believed you have to love your people, but you have to make sure you hold your team accountable to the plan, the process, the principles and the values of the culture.
    "Mulally had a zero-tolerance policy for violating the process," says Gordon. "This is how positive leaders should approach dealing with inconsistencies in organizations. If someone violates the process and you don't address it, then everyone knows you aren't committed to it. But when you love people and hold them accountable, it's amazing how fast things can move in the right direction."
    5. Your company is falling on hard times, and everyone is worried about their job
    • Negative leaders become even more negative and turn volatile and hopeless.
    • Positive leaders make decisions with faith instead of fear.
    During the Great Recession, as the rest of the country was going through the downturn, the people who lead and work for the companies in Silicon Valley refused to participate in the recession. They were too busy trying to change the world. They were surrounded by a bubble of optimism.
    "Ultimately, being a positive leader is all about leading with faith in a world filled with cynicism, negativity, and fear," says Gordon. "As a leader, you must realize that your people are filled with fear, doubt and uncertainty, and it's your job to inspire them with faith."
    "Negativity routinely drains energy and sabotages talented teams," adds Gordon. "But leaders are optimally positioned to combat negativity and pessimism at every level of their company. As quickly as systemic pessimism poisons a group of people, relentless optimism is guaranteed to change the destructive negative dynamics and transform your culture. It's truly up to you. Focus on the positive in all situations and see the remarkable difference it makes."
    About the Author:
    Jon Gordon's newest book is The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World. Northwestern Mutual, Bayer, the U.S. Military Academy, and more. For more information, please visit the book's page on Gordon is also the author of: The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, Training Camp, The Seed, You Win in the Locker Room First, and The No Complaining Rule. He and his tips have been featured on Today, CNN, CNBC, The Golf Channel, Fox and Friends, and in numerous magazines and newspapers. His clients include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Falcons, Campbell's Soup, Dell, Publix, Southwest Airlines, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Pittsburgh Pirates, BB&T, Clemson Football, Northwestern Mutual, Bayer, the U.S. Military Academy, and more. 
    Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.