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Published on March 2, 2020

5 Traits of Positive Leadership Any Leader Should Master

5 Traits of Positive Leadership Any Leader Should Master

When we talk about leadership, many people assume that leadership is always positive. But leadership is about influence and direction. It’s about having the ability to influence and impact others. There is nothing inherent in the term or the practice that necessitates that all displays of leadership are positive. They are not.

Without intention, a leader can create a harmful workplace culture that sets colleagues up to compete with one another, distrust one another and take from one another. Positive leadership then, is not automatic or necessarily synonymous with leadership.

To practice positive leadership, you must make an intentional and conscious decision to do so. Positive leadership is making a mindful decision to lead from a place of integrity and honesty. It is a determination that you will consider the impact of your presence rather than rest on the excuse of intent: ‘I didn’t intend to harm you; therefore, the impact of my actions must be ignored.’

Positive leadership is leading from a place of possibility rather than fear. It is deciding to lead in a way that contributes to society rather than takes from it. It is concern for reciprocity – we will positively impact all with whom we interact and rather than taking, we will give back.

The value of positive leadership on organizations, government, political campaigns and companies can never be understated. While an entity may have a talented collection of employees, without positive leadership, the entity cannot realize its full potential or have maximum impact. Traits of positive leadership include integrity, curiosity, courage, confidence and persistence.

1. Integrity

Positive leadership is about being who you say you are, even when no one is looking.

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Leaders employing positive leadership have an internal code that governs how they show up, how they interact with others and how they go about achieving organizational or corporate goals.

Positive leadership is synonymous with integrity as to lead effectively, people must trust that you are who you say you are and will do what you say you will do. Rather than pursuing their vision in reckless ways, they are concerned about things such as equity, fairness, privilege, corporate social responsibility and impact.

Personal integrity is not just a feel-good buzz word; it is an ethos than guides every aspect of their work and life. Without it, companies build empires like a stack of cards: eventually it’ll crumble. Integrity is essential for companies and personal brands that want lasting power. A leader can exist for a time period without operating ethically, but in time, leadership that is not accompanied by integrity will be revealed to be a sham.

Think about the scandals and sexual abuse allegations haunting people like Harvey Weinstein. I’m convinced many people around him knew of his reputation and perhaps are not surprised that the abuse allegations eventually came to light. Integrity is like insurance; it helps you sleep better.

2. Curiosity

Curiosity continually seeks to understand why and what else. It is an endless exploration for information rather than an endless quest for judgment. Problems then, are an opportunity to explore rather than demonize or criticize.

Positive leadership assumes that there is always an explanation behind why people do what they do. Positive leadership suspends judgment and turns to curiosity. When systems fail to operate as expected, the first question positive leadership asks ‘why’ rather than ‘who,’ as in who is responsible.

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This isn’t to say that positive leadership suspends accountability in favor of philosophical quests for information. Accountability is always present, but so is questioning. Curiosity is about assuming that the information we receive is surface-level and deeper exploration is almost always warranted.

3. Courage

Positive leadership requires courage. It takes courage to step outside of protocol and courage to introduce a new way of being or doing.

Courage is required when honestly assessing what is and what is working in a corporation, government entity or nonprofit organization. Courage is a prerequisite for giving honest feedback, which in turn, is a prerequisite for professional growth and development.

While the titles CEO, Vice President or Regional Director may be alluring, the day to day responsibilities are anything but. People in these positions are constantly forced to make decisions and calls that will leave others downright angry.

As I wrote in a piece for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, good managers overcome the desire to be liked, because they cannot do their job effectively while being preoccupied with whether the people around them like them at every turn, or throughout every season of the company.[1] The only way to do this is to develop and lead with courage.

Courage allows leaders to decide deemed difficult but will ultimately be considered pivotal to the company’s future success.

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4. Confidence

Another trait of positive leadership is confidence. Confidence is assurance in one’s skills and abilities, but also in the strength of the product, idea or initiative.

Confidence is being one’s own cheerleader and one’s own ‘Amen’ corner. When leaders possess confidence, they inspire others to tap into their own unique gifts and abilities. When the leader thrives, they convince others that they too can thrive.

In the absence of confidence, employees become distrustful, stakeholders become doubtful and investors become scare. In the presence of confidence, leaders receive grace and space to do that which is in the organization or company’s best interest, and employees and stakeholders become more likely to take risks that may ultimately benefit themselves and the company.

This is key because few people are willing to try things that they do not believe they can master. Confidence is not only inspiring, it is contagious.

Want to be more confident? Here’re 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence.

5. Persistence

Persistence is a critical trait of positive leadership. Persistence enables leaders to continue trying, even in the face of disappointment or failure. Persistence enables employees to believe that success is within reach, and therefore they must keep striving to achieve it.

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Since few things happen quickly, persistence is required. Social media may give the illusion that success is an overnight job. It’s not. Many people strive for years, and some decades, to influence change or to achieve career success.

I once provided public relations support for Padres y Jovenes Unidos, a grassroots organization in Denver, Colorado, which worked for a decade to come to an agreement that would clarify the role of police in schools, and limit the involvement of police in school disciplinary matters. After 10 years of working with young people, the school district and local police, Padres reached a monumental agreement with all parties. It took persistence to see their goal become a reality.

Leading Positively

To lead positively, you must make a commitment to continue growing and to live with humility. When a person has achieved a certain level of success, it is easy to think that their internal work is complete. But as long as we live, we will be presented with opportunities to develop and grow. We should take those and never cease taking those.

Every situation, every problem and every experience presents an opportunity to refine our leadership and test whether it is positive leadership.

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Featured photo credit: CoWomen via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked

More by this author

Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and trainer specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

“Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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Eisenhower Matrix Template

    The quadrants are:

    • Do
    • Schedule
    • Delegate
    • Eliminate

    Do

    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

    Here’s a practical example.

    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

    Schedule

    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

    Delegate

    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

    Eliminate

    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

    2. Define the Value

    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Know What’s Important to You

    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

    6. Know When to Stop

    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

    Conclusion

    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

    More Tips on Prioritizing

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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