The Power of Positive Leadership

power of positive leadershipPicture someone who’s a leader and chances are you’ll think of a corporate president, a military officer or political figure.  But the mom who is managing a household, or a coworker who’s in charge of a team, or the neighbor who shepherds a troop of Cub Scouts is a leader, too.

If leadership is one of your top personal strengths, the VIA Strengths Survey would tell you that you enjoy “encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.”

From time to time, most of us end up in leadership positions of one kind or another.  And all of us can learn to lead well, and to exert the power of positive leadership.

In fact, it’s positivity that gives leadership its real power.   Read through lists of the qualities that good leaders possess and you’ll  find  characteristics such as:

  • Integrity, Honesty
  • Flexibity
  • Respectful
  • Quiet Confidence, Humility
  • Enthusiastic
  • Open-Minded
  • Open to Change
  • Trustworthy
  • Compassionate
  • Empowers Others, Supportive
  • Risk Taking
  • Sense of Humor

Good Leadership is Service

Len Petrancosta, from Pittsburgh’s Sandler Training by Peak Performance Management, Inc., told me that the primary benefit of leadership is “the satisfaction of helping people reach their full potential.”    And  helping people reach their full potential is exactly what a positive leader does.

Petrancosta and his colleagues train sales people, executives and managers to achieve their potential using a beautiful model called The Leadership Challenge® based on the best-selling book by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.  The model teaches the five practices of good leaders, the ones that all of us can use to lead well, regardless of how humble our leadership roles may be.

  • First, good leaders identify the values that will guide their work and do their best to embody them.
  • Second, they hold a clear, high vision of what they want to achieve, of the best possibilities, and they communicate their vision to others.
  • Then comes the challenge of looking for opportunities and means to achieve their vision.  They experiment and take risks; they try new avenues.  They evaluate the outcomes and make adjustments, building on small wins.
  • Fourth, good leaders build relationships within and between their teams.  They promote cooperation, build trust, and encourage self-determination and competence in their people.
  • And finally, they lead from the heart.  They recognize the efforts of others and express their appreciation.  They celebrate achievements and wins; they applaud excellence and adherence to values.  They acknowledge the cooperative efforts of everybody involved.

By following these practices, leaders serve both their purpose and their people.  They keep focused on what they want to achieve and about how they want to achieve it.  They understand the essential ‘Why’ behind all that they are doing.

Knowing Your Why

To be a great leader, knowing your ‘Why’ is essential.    Here’s how author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action explains it:

Knowing your ‘Why’ is working from the inside out.  It starts with your core values, what you care about most deeply.   And it moves right through the five leadership principles, serving as the foundation for them, and ending in celebration as your purpose is advanced and achieved.

That’s the place to begin.   When you’re leading your kids to cleaning their rooms, let them know it’s because you value beauty, cleanliness and order.  When you’re leading your sales force to achieve new records, remind them of the way your product serves its users and contributes to their lives.

That’s where the power of positive leadership resides: in serving your values and in helping others reach more of their own potential by joining in the effort.

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If you enjoyed this article please pass it on.  This is one in a continuing series of articles on positive psychology’s 24 character strengths.  To find the others, go to our Article Index and scroll down to, “Strengths, Individual.”

You might also enjoy:

The Excellence of Effort

Perseverance: Power Key to Success

 

Illustration by ilco at stock.xchng
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Why Happiness Matters Now More Than Ever

Shoreline StormEven if your exposure to the news is limited to a five-minute radio broadcast a couple times a week, it’s no surprise to you that life on planet Earth seems to be more threatened, stressful and intense with every passing day.

In light of the global challenges we’re facing, to focus on your personal happiness can seem frivolous or callously self-centered.

But the fact is you need to take time to attend to your happiness more than ever when times are tough.  Here’s why:

1.  Happiness Lets You See the Bigger Picture

As Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s studies have proved, a positive orientation toward life lets you look at things with a broadened viewpoint.   When you’re happy, you’re more open to noticing the things in life that are beautiful, and satisfying, and good.  You see the roses, not just the thorns.

But not only that, but you’re more likely to spot new possibilities and opportunities.  You can ask more positive “What if” questions, and find more creative, playful, daring, and ingenious answers to your situation.

Positivity lets you see solutions, not just problems.  And even in those cases where there are no solutions, positivity helps you see how to manage the problems in the best possible way.

2.  Happiness Keeps You Healthier

When you take time to enjoy life, your physical health improves.  You’re less vulnerable to stress.  Your immune system is stronger.  You’re more likely to eat healthier, to exercise more, and to sleep better.   That matters a lot when times are tough.  Good health helps you be more resilient, capable and strong.

3. Happiness Helps Those Around You

Happiness is contagious. By turning on your own happiness, you’re performing a genuine service to others.  Research shows that happiness spreads three people deep.  When you’re happy, the friend of a friend of your friend is likely to feel happier, too.  Your happiness reaches out to others to lighten their loads, brighten their days, lift their spirits, and give them hope.  That, in itself, is reason to be happy, isn’t it?

4.  Happiness Lets You Be the Real You

Genuine happiness springs from your own unique makeup.  The combination of things that brings out your senses of delight and pleasure, meaning and satisfaction is unlike anyone else’s.  When you’re happiest, you’re centered in authenticity, connected to your heart.  In a real sense, feeling genuine happiness is a spiritual experience, not unlike love.

5.  You Only Live Once

old neighborMy 75-year old neighbor stopped by for coffee.  A few of his childhood buddies have recently passed away, and the subject of his own death crept into our conversation.

“When you’re at my funeral,” he said, “and looking down into my coffin, you tell everybody that every day I did what I wanted to, okay?  Tell them that every day I had some fun.”

That’s a beautiful request.  I wish every one of us could ask the same.

We only get to walk on this planet in this time frame inside these wondrous, vulnerable, one-of-a-kind bodies of ours once.  Being happy is a way to say thanks for the experience.

No matter how foreboding the world may seem at the moment, no matter how deep the pile of problems you see around you, the world is brimming with things that can stir your senses of awe and wonder, that can give you pleasure, and peace, and delight.

Let life’s colors and sounds, its fragrances, tastes and textures be gifts you give yourself. Revel in the relationships that bring out the joy in you.  Savor the memories of those times when life was especially sweet or fun.  Carve out little niches of time to spend doing the things that please and enrich and satisfy you. Seek out whatever brings you joy.

You deserve it.  Just because, for right this now,  you’re here.  This is your one life:  Today.  Make the most of it.  Make time for happiness.

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Photos by: “theswedish,” stock.xchng

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