Friday, April 24, 2009

How Leaders Stay Positive When Things Seem Negative

PositiveThinkj0187537jpeg I shadowed Madeleine for two days as part of my coaching process last year. She had invited me to help her discover why there was a fog of negativity enveloping her department and hindering their goal achievement. I watched her conduct meetings, interact with her staff, and collaborate with colleagues. At the end of the second day, I explained that she needed to establish and maintain a more positive mood if she wanted to reach her goals. The same is true for most leaders.

Mood is the final “M” (after Modeling and Mastery) to building the strong belief that a team can reach their goal. Many leaders don’t reach their goals because they let obstacles or negativity bring the team down. The top leaders I have studied choose to stay positive when things seem negative. Here is one of several techniques I shared with Madeleine to help her establish a positive mood at work.

Place your attention on your intention

Our thoughts are previews of coming attractions. How we think about what is about to happen influences what actually happens. One of the reasons there was so much negativity in Madeleine’s department was that her interactions with her staff were often preceded by a cascade of negative thoughts. I heard her grumbling about one direct report who “never follows through” before talking to this person about a project. Another interaction was preceded by grumbling about “hoping she gets it right this time.” Madeleine was broadcasting negativity prior to and during interactions with her direct reports... without even knowing it.

The good news was that her negativity was not present when dealing with her colleagues. So, when we discussed the difference between the interactions (direct reports versus colleagues), it became clear to her that she needed to set a more positive intention/expectation prior to interacting with her direct reports.

She decided to write and review a few positive affirmations prior to conversations with her direct reports. These included:

  • I am helping this person...
  • We will both benefit from our conversation because...
  • I see an open exchange of ideas and opinions…
  • I hear this person fully engaged in a positive conversation

If you want to establish or maintain a positive mood, I urge you to place your attention on your intention. It worked for Madeleine. It should work for you... because as our minister says, “Your description is your prescription.”

Keep eXpanding,


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