The Importance and Effects of Positivity in Leadership

A recent study by The Alternative Board, surveying hundreds of entrepreneurs worldwide, uncovered “positivity” as being the single most important leadership quality. While some of the more commonly cited traits, such as transparency, passion, communication, and decisiveness are obviously important, it seems an optimistic outlook is deemed the true key to success; or at least the one that makes all the others possible.

happy young business man portrait in bright modern office indoor


How, then, can business leaders translate a, hopefully existing, positive outlook to their teams? Well, first let’s identify what constitutes a positive company culture. In his blog, CEOThinks, Bill Hagaman, Managing Partner and CEO of WithumSmith+Brown, has broken down the qualities of a positive workplace into “Super Seven” important characteristics:

  1. Caring for, and showing interest in your colleagues as friends beyond the workplace
  2. Showing support and extending compassion and kindness when coworkers are struggling
  3. Forgiving mistakes without placing blame
  4. Cultivating a communication-friendly environment and avoiding gossip and dishonesty
  5. Gaining and sharing inspiration at work
  6. Focusing on the meaningfulness of tasks and projects
  7. Treating all employees and colleagues with trust, respect, integrity and gratitude

Maximize Strengths, Not Weaknesses.

We are all aware that the workplace is often a virtual microcosm of varying talents and skill levels, and it’s quite easy for leaders to fall into a pattern of pointing out the negatives in order to keep employees from working below their expectations. However, it’s recommended that business leaders keep their conversations focused on the strengths of their employees, rather than their weaknesses. According to Kat Boogaard, career-advice writer for the Muse and ZipRecruiter, highlighting your workers’ strong points “will [not only] make conversations more beneficial and demonstrate that you have a high opinion of your employees, but [also] serve to make your team that much more productive”. She continues that “[while] those tough conversations might still need to happen every now and then, making an effort to stay primarily zoned in on strengths will lead to a much more positive atmosphere for your team”.  In support of this fact, the Corporate Leadership Council relayed that positivity-based conversation may actually improve work performance by almost 37 percent.

Spotlight Your Team’s Successes.

Endless tasks and an overwhelming workload can easily lead to burnout. Yet, while the reduction of responsibilities is often not an option, business leaders should remember to pause every now and then to celebrate even the small victories achieved by you and your team. Boogaard reminds leaders to “[make] it a point to celebrate wins, make note of progress and accomplishments, and offer recognition to notable employees each and every week”. She continues, “Taking a break from the hustle and bustle to remind your team that you appreciate them will have a great impact on how you’re perceived as a leader”. In fact, a recent study conducted by Cornell University indicated that positive recognition can significantly improve employee engagement by a reported 41 percent.

Discuss Solutions, Not Just Problems.

When mistakes do occur or goals and deadlines fail to be met, it is the job of the business leader to address these issues. However, Boogaard reminds that “[if] you foster a reputation as that leader who just continually pokes holes in things without any resolution, you’re bound to make your entire team a little frustrated and disheartened”. Rather than speaking off the cuff or out of your own frustration, take an extra moment to reassess the situation. Instead of only bringing a slew of reprimands to the table, address the problems with some thought-out solutions, or even ask your team for their ideas on how they can improve their future performance.

Group of business partners discussing ideas or strategies at meeting


To Conclude

Remember, as a business leader, it is you who sets the tone for your entire team or organization. Remaining patient and maintaining your own positive attitude can only translate toward a happier, more productively engaged workplace.

Related:  6 Stress Management Tips for Business Executives


Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200