Think of positive leadership as a funnel:
- It starts with the organization and its overarching mission and values
- Permeates leadership teams through the expression of positive values and goals
- Helps managers implement and track progress
- Ensures individuals know what needs to be done
- Ensures rewards
You can identify companies that have implemented positive practices throughout history and compare their mission statements with those of their less successful counterparts.
Positivity clearly appears in mission statements that value societal contributions over the desire to be No. 1:
Ford Motor Company: democratize the auto (1900s)
Boeing: bring the world into the jet age (1950s)
Sony: obliterate the image of poor-quality Japanese goods (1960s)
Apple: one person, one computer (1980s)
Compare those mission statements with the following:
GE: be No. 1 or 2 in every market we serve
Walmart: become the first trillion-dollar company
Philip Morris: knock off R.J. Reynolds as the No. 1 tobacco company
Nike: crush Adidas
Honda: destroy Yamaha
Improving your leadership positivity starts with your organization’s mission statement. Ask yourself and your organization “we do what we do for the sake of what?” Why are we here? Who are we here to serve? Then, ask yourself and your colleagues what you/they want on a deeper level:
- Which values inspire coming to work each day to give your best?
- How will you encourage staff and customers to make contributions that
benefit the world?
The Language of Positive Conversations
Begin to transform your team by attaching everything you say and do to higher goals and values. Leaders, managers and staff become more positive when they are attentive to using positive, encouraging language. Rephrase and reframe statements in a more positive way, without sacrificing honesty or reality.
If you’re in a management position, everything you say – or don’t say – is magnified, making it even more important to boost your positive/negative ratio. Aim for a least a 3:1 (ideally, a 5:1) ratio of positive to negative statements. When you adopt this approach, others will follow suit.
In my work as an executive coach, most people report they don’t get enough appreciation. That’s a clue that they’re probably not giving enough either. What do you think?