“With all the negativity in the world, what a great opportunity one has to be a positive leader and influencer. When one decides to become a positive leader, it not only makes themselves better, but makes everyone around them better — and that’s a great place to start!” —Jon Gordon
In today’s volatile, uncertain world, organizations are often faced with seemingly insurmountable hurdles as they navigate the future. Days are often filled with challenge that can almost seem unbearable as the never-ending dynamics that shape our world continue to linger on. The human spirit may be challenged in ways unimaginable, and the strategies previously employed no longer work. It’s time for a change and a new approach.
Optimism and opportunity both begin with the same letter and that’s only part of the similarity. The word “optimism” actually derives from the Latin word “optima,” meaning the best outcome or belief in the greatest good. From this author’s perspective, the greatest good is something not only strived for but longed for in almost every organization! Very few people wake each day thinking, “I want to have the worst take place in my organization and will do whatever it takes to facilitate.” On the contrary, good leaders are looking for ways to exploit the talent within and thus increase the impact of the firm. How do leaders transition and embrace a positive approach to leadership? As Jon Gordon, author of the Power of Positive Leadership, speaker, consultant and coach, writes, “Positive, optimistic leadership makes a significant difference in leaders and their teams. It all starts with vision.” Gordon describes an organization’s vision as its North Star and stresses that the vision must be shared with and embraced by everyone. To Gordon, the most important job for a leader is to drive a positive and energetic culture that is rooted in that vision.
Driving positive culture is a key ingredient in ensuring future growth and success. Leaders need to begin by identifying the key elements that drive impact related to the company’s vision. Then, they can carefully examine the purpose of the work and mission and who within the team can provide the greatest impact while maximizing skills and talent. A positive culture is an inclusive one that enables everyone to build upon and work toward a common goal of driving success. This begins by looking at the individual talents of each contributor and how they all collectively can drive the work forward. There are several helpful tools, like Gallop Strengthfinders, that can assist in the assessment and evaluation of how individuals can work and communicate together to advance the work and organizational purpose. Understanding and communicating everyone’s strengths and assets provides a baseline for productive work, planning and individual engagement, and forms the basis of working from abundance.
Once we begin to view the organization and the team through this lens, we build the will and grit needed to persevere. It becomes easier for the leadership to also focus on the positive gains that can be realized by using those newfound skills in a thoughtful and impactful way. A leader himself or herself becomes more positive as they can truly begin to see challenges as opportunities that can be tackled by assembling the team in a way that maximizes everyone’s potential.
Leading from abundance and positivity does not happen overnight! It takes an intentional shift by the leaders of an organization to look at things from an opportunistic perspective from the beginning. With communication and trust that those in the organization will work together collaboratively, leaders assume the positive outcome rather than the negative. It will not be easy at first, but over time (and it will be quicker than one might think), an organization will build the team that produces the best results with the greatest impact.
Bruce Weber is founder and president/CEO at Weber Group. Weber brings more than 20 years of experience to the for-profit and nonprofit community, working with startup, growth and mature organizations. His focus is in strengthening organizations through strategic planning, organizational development, leadership and board development. He is a BoardSource Certified Governance trainer and a founding partner of the Nonprofit Lifecycles Institute.