Think about your day yesterday…how many times did you think positively about a team member vs. think about how that person was not living up to your expectations…wasn’t trying hard enough…didn’t care about the outcome as much as you? The list can go on and on! What would the corporate world look like if we lost our negative judgment of people? How would we lead people differently if our assumption was that everyone was doing the best they can with the tools and information they currently possess? What would our leadership look like if we treated every direct report like he/she was a special project? I can imagine it would be a very different world!
I met with a business owner this week, I’ll call him Paul. The purpose of the meeting was Paul’s need for some help in hiring a senior level employee. As we were brainstorming the kind of person Paul was looking for, the conversation quickly turned to Paul’s desire to change the culture of his organization into something more positive, more rewarding, and more energizing! As I mined for information around how Paul viewed his current culture, I became conscious of the fact that there were more negative statements coming from his view about his current employees than positive. He seemed only to be able to focus on how they were not living up to his expectations as opposed to what they were doing right. Every so often Paul would throw in a positive comment. However, the tides quickly turned to the negative. It was clear Paul was not focusing on positive thinking.
It has been said, in many different ways by many well known leadership gurus, that what we focus on we create. If, as a leader, Paul is focused on the negative traits of his team that is what he will see. If that is what he sees, then that is what he will focus on…and so on, and so on, and so on. It turns into a vicious circle.
Now understand, Paul is a very good person and a successful business man, and he is by no means intentionally sabotaging his own culture. However, through his current perspective he is unconsciously contributing to the creation of a culture that is exactly opposite of what he would like to have, as a result of negative vs. positive thinking.
His homework for this week…
1) spend time at the end of each day journaling about what went right; and
2) identify at least one positive trait that each employee displayed that day.
Stay tuned to see how Paul makes out!
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