As part of my leadership blog series, I’d like to describe how a positive attitude in leadership, applied strategically, can be an energetic core of success. First, let’s consider these two words:
The expression of criticism or pessimism.
The expression of dissatisfaction or annoyance.
I hear plenty of the above, and you probably do, too. And I admit that I can also contribute to it. Is this simply human nature? Probably. Is this societally ingrained? More than likely. If you think about how much we are all surrounded by negativity and complaining every day, it is hard to avoid its impact.
Unfortunately, negativity is a bad influence. Check out Sharon Fitzmaurice’s description of what negativity does:
Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system.
Yikes! Now, here is a news report’s description of how complaining can affect us:
When you complain, you increase your levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to a variety of health problems, including increased risk of depression, digestive problems, sleep issues, higher blood pressure, and even increased risk of heart disease.
Clearly, minimizing negative feelings and behaviors can be to our benefit, but how can we combat them? I have a proposal: make an effort to bring more positivity to the table! While not rocket science, this effort can be challenging. Many of us are hard-wired by our environment to pay attention to and address what is wrong.
Are you open to change?
Bringing positivity to the workplace requires what I refer to as a mindset shift — making an intentional effort to change our thought patterns to acknowledge and capture what is good and what is right.
One of the best aspects of having a positive attitude in leadership is its ripple effect. Positivity is incredibly contagious. A compliment or a thank you can inspire the recipient to turn around and do the same for someone else. Corporate wellness experts cite the following impacts of positivity in the workplace:
- Positive emotions are correlated with better health and stress management
- Positive emotions enhance interpersonal relationships and creativity
- Positive emotions lead to greater job satisfaction
These outcomes sound better than the outcomes of negativity and complaining.
A positive attitude in leadership in action
Here is one example of how Imperial, a company that provides clinical trial support services, chose to spread positivity.
Not long ago, we ran into a challenging situation with a lost shipment. As expected, the customer was upset over the matter, but they also expressed a negative sentiment toward us. The issue was clearly outside our control and we have a significant track record over many years of successfully delivering for this customer, so I was disappointed by their response.
We worked closely with another contact at the company, as well as our freight forwarding vendor, to resolve the issue. Both were friendly and cooperative, and they went the extra mile. Despite the stressful matter at hand, their engagement style enabled us to collaborate more effectively to bring the issue to resolution.
Yes, the experience was POSITIVE and we wanted to recognize that! After the shipment was located and the corrective action was in place, Dan McDonald (Imperial VP of sales) and Ted Corrigan (Imperial VP of operations) reached out on behalf of the team with personal notes to formally recognize these collaborators.
Dan strongly believes it is important to recognize our vendor partners. “In today’s world of global clinical trials and increasingly complicated logistics, it takes strong partnerships and great communication to connect the world,” he said. “Our logistics partners represent a behind-the-scenes, but highly critical, component of our promise to get our client’s materials and supplies to study sites on time. We felt it was important to step beyond the economics of the relationship to simply show appreciation for the urgency and hard work of a lot of people to solve a problem. At the end of the day, we are all people and we want to be respected and appreciated. That matters to us and we know it matters to our partners.”
Taking a positive attitude in leadership further
Seek every opportunity to catch people doing something right versus doing something wrong. Doing this is the right thing. It has improved our relationship with these individuals and has also positively reinforced how we choose to work with people.
Even the simplest messages can be powerful. The reactions we get from customers and vendors who receive them are priceless. Those given within the team create greater appreciation, trust, and support.
What do we accomplish by choosing positivity over negativity or complaining? We are positively impacting lives. We are treating our team, customers, and vendors exactly how we wish others would treat us. While we can’t control what others do, we can control what we do.
So, I challenge you to ask yourself how a positive attitude in leadership can help you:
- Is there someone out there who has done something lately that has positively impacted me, whom I want to recognize?
- To whom can I say thank you or job well done?
- Whose life can I positively impact today?
I encourage you to act on this. Be the change you would like to see!