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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 August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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