The Power Of Positivity In Leadership

The Power Of Positivity In Leadership

Written by: Bill Stauffer, Forbes Councils Member

Bill Stauffer is a Managing Partner of Flatiron Search Partners. FSP is a boutique executive-search and growth-advisory firm. 


Leaders, who have far more experience than I, have written about this topic in the past, but it never ceases to amaze me how powerful the idea and execution of positivity is when leading a team, running a company, working with a client or talking to a candidate.

Positivity is the water in this desert we call life, and with so much uncertainty in the world — in politics and in business — it’s an absolutely crucial component of leadership.

I’ve had the privilege to work alongside some of the best leaders imaginable through some incredibly positive high-growth times and through some incredibly trying times, such as during the pandemic while leading a business that at the time heavily served brick-and-mortar businesses. I’ve learned and borrowed a lot of lessons along the way, which I will attempt to break down here. Positivity is an idea, a concept, a philosophy. But how does a leader exude or lead with positivity?

1. Expect and embrace uncertainty, freneticism, ambiguity and stress. Business and life are always uncertain and fast-moving. Rather than worrying about everything, accept this reality and don’t fight it, but embrace it. Enjoy the journey. 

2. Control what you can control. Spend 100% of your time focused on driving outcomes through the levers you can control. Learn to push aside what you can’t. Push your team to do the same.

3. Set the weather. I 100% believe that you, yourself, largely determine whether you and your team have a good day or a bad day. Commit to a sunny day and the sun will likely shine. I learned this from a great chief culture officer at a former company. It works.

4. Stay calm and objective. One of my favorite mentors used to say that “nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems in the moment” and “everything comes out in the wash eventually.” I’ve found that remaining calm allows me to embrace the reality that usually just as something seems insurmountable, the tides change. The universe seems to favor decisive and controlled action over panic. 

5. Turn challenge into opportunity. I used to panic when things went bad. Now I think, “OK, this is a bummer, but what can come out of it?” In March 2020, the world had clearly changed and the trajectory of our business was in question. We quickly used the opportunity to optimize our business, upgrade our team, broaden our practice and tackle important items we would have never gotten around to. We were able to do this because we didn’t panic.

6. Accept that failure is a reality sometimes. No one is right 100% of the time, and no one wins 100% of the time. The more you try, the more you fail — and the more you win. That’s the math.

7. Move past failure quickly. It happens and it will happen again. Don’t sweat it, don’t question yourself. Move on, learn and do better.

8. Have gratitude and celebrate little wins. This is something it took me many years to learn. Be incredibly thankful for everything you have: your business, team, clients, family, friends, etc. Don’t take things for granted. I start my day with a list of things I’m thankful for and excited about for the day. It allows me to “set the weather.” My partner and I end every week with a “gratitude sesh” where we celebrate all the little things that were wins over the course of the week. We do that after we do a “postmortem” of what didn’t work.

9. Presume positive intent. Life and business are stressful. We’re all stressed. We’re all dealing with “stuff” both professionally and personally. That said, I believe most people don’t come to work feeling like they want to be “negative or tough” on other people. I’ve learned to presume people come with positive intent and that if they don’t behave in a positive way, it’s an outside force, not them. Judging people does not build positivity. 

10. Support and celebrate others’ successes. Life is bigger than me or you. So are businesses and teams. We win when we all win. I’ve increasingly come to believe that life is a journey, not a competition and that the enjoyment and gratitude that comes from helping others to win and then celebrating those wins makes us better at work and at life. My partner and I spend a lot of our day thinking about our teams and talking about how we can help them win the day, the week or the month. The same goes for our candidates and clients.

11. Eat last. This has been said often, but I firmly agree that leaders must put themselves last in everything they do. But it needs to be genuine. Find ways to support, surprise and delight others at the expense of yourself.

12. Conserve your energy. Don’t let people or situations rob you of your energy or confidence. As a leader, you need to have a strong reserve of positivity — and like a bank account, there are debits and credits. Maintain a strong balance in the account as you never know when you’ll need it.

13. Remember that life is not a 45-degree angle. It’s full of ups and downs. Learn to enjoy the journey and teach others to as well. A former CEO taught me this. 

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, nor is it intended to be a perfect recipe for positivity. A former COO of mine used to say that great leaders are the aggregate of the best-borrowed pieces of their past great leaders, and this list, I suppose, is just that. I hope you’ll find it helpful.

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

via Forbes – Leadership “”

January 28, 2022 at 05:08AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman