Fearful leaders often cannot deal with difficult issues or conversations, so moderate troubles balloon into true crises. They also resist taking the risks necessary to move their companies forward. Fears can take many forms: discomfort, incapacity, negative feelings, failure and self-criticism. Each carries numerous side effects, most rooted in a fear of rejection. Fears make a leader ineffective and paralyzed. Plans are often forfeited, as is success.
Companies face myriad threats: a volatile economy, politics, cost overruns, competition and disruptive technology, among others. But there’s a particular internal threat that can dwarf them: fear at the leadership level. Fearful leaders often cannot deal with difficult issues or conversations, so moderate troubles balloon into true crises. They also resist taking the risks necessary to move their companies forward.
When leaders have a more positive character, their thoughts, behavior, instincts and responses are more receptive to organizational needs. They see a brighter future in which problems become opportunities.
Negativity and discord have reached historic levels in our culture. It impacts families, communities, institutions and workplaces. Leaders see the results firsthand, as turnover rises, projects fail to hit their goals, and productivity falls short of expectations.
The most powerful truths are often the simplest. Just as negativity causes myriad organizational troubles, positivity has the opposite effect. Logic tells us that a positive approach has to be better than a negative one. We glean this from our experiences and the common sense we’ve acquired. Evaluations of corporate performance and culture affirm that positivity is a powerful, yet often overlooked, force that can determine whether an organization will thrive or take a dive.
As scientists study the brain and learn more about how we achieve optimal functioning, the term positivity has finally captured business leaders’ interests. What researchers are discovering about positive emotions at work is essential knowledge for anyone who wants to lead individuals and organizations to high performance.
Do you frequently lose your temper? Perhaps you’re short with people or pressing your points without regarding theirs. Take stock of how people respond to you. Is there an issue with your approach? If your employees try to avoid you or resist bringing up difficult topics, you may be overbearing. Focus on being calm and collected, and recognize the harm caused by a lack of kindness or empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of a person confronted with your gruff approach.
People seek relief when confronted with obnoxious or ego-driven leaders. They long for a manager who’s quiet, thoughtful, reserved and capable of creating a peaceful culture.
This scenario seems wonderful, on the surface: a break from ongoing torture. But behind their deceptive façade, quiet leaders often present a world of uncertainties and unanticipated challenges. Accompanying the more obvious benefits are surprising detriments that can be as debilitating to the organization as those inflicted by their overbearing counterparts.
Today’s leaders face innumerable challenges that previous generations never confronted: employee disengagement, cloud-based speed of commerce, political correctness, cultural diversity, social sensitivities and a hyper-focus on efficiency, among others. Pressure to succeed is higher than ever. Leaders know they must have an A-game, and they continually encounter methods that experts claim will improve proficiencies.