Leadership Habit Change: Swap Negative for Positive!
There is no mystery around the value of positive thinking as a foundational mindset of personal and professional leadership. You cannot get the people who follow you to contribute at a high level without inspiring them, and a negative outlook undermines inspiration.
This quote from Mahatma Gandhi captures our point well:
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
(Thanks to Forbes columnist Victor Lipman for finding this quote for us.)
The “Power of Positive Thinking” still Works!
Building a positive-outlook mindset is part of what we work on every day with clients. Improving leadership outcomes depends on replacing the unengaging, negative behavior sets used by too many managers. These bad habits imped their own success by demotivating and disengaging their followers. The replacement processes all starts with awareness of those destructive behaviors, and their internal causes. (What is driving them?). Then the growing leader flows that awareness into creating attack plans for replacing bad behaviors with great ones, and embedding them over time as new, more productive leadership habits.
So, when Gandhi starts with positive thoughts, we emphasize positive attitude. That mindset allows a shift in those behaviors that are causing friction, replacing them with behaviors that foster engagement and collaboration. Lipman builds on the critical need for positivity in his article:
“Over the course of your career there will be ample negative headwinds a consistently positive mindset needs to counter. Over the long run management is a darn tough job…(and) resilience still matters…I once wrote that the hide of an armadillo is one of the most valuable traits a successful leader can have. I still believe that.”
Lipman’s armadillo hide metaphor may overstate the case. Effective leaders actually leaven their style with a certain amount of vulnerability (allowing themselves to admit to being human, accept the inevitability of mistakes, and focus on next steps in place of recriminations, for instance.)
“How often we forget the simple truth that successful management has nothing to do with individual brilliance or performance but everything to do with accomplishing work through others. And getting your people to want to do their best for you — day after day, month after month, and year after year.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thanks, Victor!