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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.

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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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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