Positive Leadership Traits in the Workplace
As has been said before, leaders aren’t born – they’re made. And the person leading a team must have the necessary skills to maximize the group’s performance. The skills that matter most to employees will differ, but one thing is for sure: A positive leader makes all the difference in the office.
But what is positive thinking, and how is it connected to impactful leadership? The Mayo Clinic defines positive thinking as approaching unpleasant situations in a more optimistic and productive way. It also associates positive thinking with optimism, a key part of stress management. Sound familiar?
Workplace stressors occur daily, so having a leader who can put a positive spin on even the worst of days will increase the odds of success during turbulent times.
The four pillars of positive leadership
Dr. Kim Cameron, professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and CorpU instructor, specializes in positive leadership development. Cameron’s philosophy on this topic is broken into four validated leadership strategies: fostering a positive work climate, building workplace relationships with team members, practicing positive communication, and cultivating positive meaning in the office.
Fostering a positive work climate
The first pillar in adopting a positive leadership approach is to assess and address the current climate in the office. Cameron notes that a positive working environment creates the opportunity for personal and organizational success. To do so, leaders should take a three-pronged approach by showing compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude.
- Showing compassion for others lets them know that you care about their personal and professional wellbeing.
- Facilitating forgiveness involves acknowledging the hurt and identifying a purpose for team members to look forward to. Doing so allows you to maintain high expectations and a standard of performance while eliminating grudges and elevating positive thought and communication.
- Expressing frequent gratitude encourages others to push forward when faced with adversity. Publicly thanking your team members for their hard work and success will likely cause them to do the same with their peers. Leaders who show gratitude create a climate in which people are cared for, supported, and encouraged to be successful.
This three-pronged communication approach will lead your team toward more respectful and supportive relationships and affect organizational performance.
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Building relationships with others
Positive working relationships produce multiple benefits for employees and team leaders in the workplace.
Investing and contributing to these relationships will create positive outcomes and help leaders identify others who contribute positive energy to those around them. This, in part, will enable them to infuse the organization with energy.
This “positive energy network” will strengthen interpersonal relationships, foster coordination, and enhance positive interactions that result in performance advantages for both the individual and the organization. Lastly, the key to building meaningful relationships with positive leadership is to focus on coworkers’ strengths. An emphasis on strength – rather than weakness – creates stronger interpersonal ties and creates opportunities for growth.
Fostering positive communication
Positive communication is a game-changer in the office. Using supportive communication will allow you to provide corrective or negative feedback in ways that make the communication encouraging and helpful. The negative effects of criticism are avoided and replaced with support and trust.
Creating positive meaning in the office
Workplace success increases dramatically when team members experience a sense of purpose in the office. As a leader, you can increase coworkers’ sense of purpose by identifying the positive impact of their contributions or by associating their work with personal value.
Be the positive influence your team needs
The daily grind will affect everyone in the office, but you have the power to turn the tide and weather the storm by adopting a positive leadership approach. Practicing these skills will create a positive working environment centered around trust, integrity, and positive reinforcement.
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