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5 Traits of Positive Leadership Any Leader Should Master

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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.

More Leadership Tips

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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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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