Positive leadership and governance are critical factors that determine workplace culture, employee engagement, and company growth.
At a talk at Google in 2018, Dr Kim Cameron referenced the heliotropic effect. This effect states that every living thing tends to lean toward positive energy (life-giving) and away from negative energy (life-depleting).
Positive leadership’s effects on productivity
There’s no doubt that motivated employees bring in more revenue for the company. A significant amount of this motivation comes from how managers give feedback and interact with their staff.
Positive leadership increases employee productivity by engagingly nurturing healthy work habits. Extraordinary performance only follows after employees put their heart into their work. More about motivation and purpose later.
Positive leadership’s effects on employee health
Several scientific studies suggest a direct link between stress and heart problems and some mental health disorders. A lot of what stresses an individual in his personal life could be attributed to poor management and toxic bosses.
In addition, these employees may bring their mental work baggage on to their friends and family. Not only do negative leadership styles affect the employee’s health, but also those around them.
Dr Kim Cameron referenced the Nun Study, which found that a happy, optimistic, positive perspective in life plays a role in individuals living longer.
Set your management on a path of positive leadership today unless you want your quarterly numbers to go down or your team to develop severe heart conditions.
You may be confident enough in your positive behaviours and good moral integrity. Though these help with positive leadership, there’s a lot more a leader should do to be a positive leader. You’ll need essential leadership skills, for example.
The four P’s of positive leadership
Positive leadership doesn’t mean pizza Fridays or drinks during company parties. Positive leadership isn’t just focused on the pure unadulterated happiness of your employees.
You’d still want that positive leadership to be transformational. This means positive leaders focus on transforming their staff while creating a productive work environment and fostering a radical change of habits for their workforce.
A positive leader supercharges the office and brings work enthusiasm to everyone. Employees don’t grow on happiness alone but from the happiness that they find in their work.
Here are the four Ps you need to understand to become a positive and transformative leader. No matter how confident you are, your leadership abilities are nothing without mastering the four Ps. So let’s dive deeper into what each of them entails:
Psychological safety is the assurance employees have towards their contributions. This safety addresses your staff’s fear of having their ideas dismissed, being ridiculed in the workplace for asking questions, and being yelled at for being “wrong.”
The resulting anxiety causes psychological pressure that limits employee creativity, ingenuity, and learning ability. New ideas won’t be brought to the table, problem-solving won’t be encouraged, and everyone will mindlessly do as they’re told.
You have already failed the psychological safety check if you’ve ever dismissed an employee’s idea without giving critical feedback.
Here are some techniques to uphold psychological safety as a positive leader:
Have an open door
When employees want to ask for help, be there for them. Don’t make it hard for your workforce to approach you despite your busy schedule.
Not providing constructive criticism is an attack on psychological safety. Your staff needs to be confident with their methods and ideas. One of the most efficient ways to nurture that confidence is by giving necessary feedback on their tasks, projects, etc., and keeping an open line of communication through PBX platforms.
There’s no bad idea
Never tell any employee, especially your creative team, that their idea is terrible. Instead, list down ways their pitch could be better.
Invest in employee learning
Conduct meetings, seminars, activities, and new-age training methods to improve employees’ workplace skills and personal lives.
Psychological safety results in a feeling of belonging in the workplace plus confidence to learn new things. Whether learning about SEO software, creating new marketing ideas, or trying a new workflow, your staff takes more calculated risks in an environment with positive psychology.
Parties and pizza will not provide the same psychological safety as addressing your staff with the above bullet points.
You’re not working with robots. If you’ve hired humans to go through a mundane set of daily tasks with no end in sight, you might as well have gotten machinery to do it.
People seek purpose in their lives. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the self-actualisation need is the highest level of human need a person must achieve. This need deals with finding purpose in one’s life. That can include mastering a skill, refining their talents, caring for others, and finding where one fits in the bigger picture.
As a company, you aren’t simply paying people to do a set of tasks. A positive leader supports the community he’s built and strives to help his employees find and fulfil their purpose.
Pay people enough so that money doesn’t become a problem, for example. According to Daniel Pink in his book “Drive,” your workforce will no longer toil away for their survival when they’re paid well but instead will look into improving themselves.
Here are more techniques to help your staff find their purpose:
Provide your employees with autonomy.
There’s no feeling of purpose if employees are constantly told what to do. Give them some degree of autonomy so they’ll also know you trust them.
Look into benefits
Consider giving employees perks such as flexible working hours and swapping shifts. Perform radical problem-solving methods as well that involve giving employees autonomy.
Orient your workforce
Remind employees about the mission and vision of the company. Let your employees know that their service makes the world a better place.
Positive leadership concerns itself with helping employees find purpose in their work. So don’t micromanage your employees. Instead, let them know that their ideas and actions significantly affect the industry.
Positive leadership encourages innovation in the workplace through this sense of purpose.
Path refers to the overall roadmap your team should follow. On an expedition, one explorer holds the map. Positive leaders provide the “map” for their team, leading them where they need to go.
Positive leaders shine the Path and illuminate the road for everyone. This results in a more focused team and contributes to the other four Ps.
Here’s how to provide a clear path for your team:
Clearly define your goals
Specify your SMART goals. You should also break them down into smaller digestible tasks for your team
Use task tracker software
With the tool, you can help your team members access their list of tasks and the company’s long-term and short-term goals.
Create a company roadmap
Make sure you also give the team your company’s strategy and timeframe for achieving its long-term goals.
Working without a path is like navigating the dark with arms frantically feeling for what’s before you. It’s uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. That’s why you need to charter a path for your team.
Creating a path will also allow your team members to manage career expectations. Remember that your team comprises individuals, each with their personal career goals.
Progress is about the genuine, high-quality, positive relationships you build with your workforce. Remember, they’re human beings. So treat them like social animals — needing positive communication and human relationships.
Positive leaders get to know their team personally over time. Naturally, they’ll understand what motivates them, what personal problems brought them to this job, how the kids are, etc.
Have some positive social exchanges here and there.
It’s also vital to celebrate your employee’s progress. Whether in their personal or career life, small or big wins, celebrate your employees for their every accomplishment.
How to implement positive leadership
Positive leadership is transformational leadership. The resulting extraordinary performance of your staff will skyrocket your quarterly numbers.
The four Ps above have already covered some of the things you need to do to cultivate a working environment with positive leadership. Below are additional tips that make positive leaders.
Rational and balanced behaviour
Positive leadership involves being rational and balanced towards your staff. Amidst tense situations, provide a proportionate response and maintain positive emotions. Incorporating rational and balanced behaviour into your various leadership styles requires emotional intelligence.
Going berserk over someone being five minutes late is negative feedback — feedback that’s not rational nor balanced.
Rationality should also be observed when making business decisions. It’s for the benefit of the business and your workforce. It would help if you didn’t punish or fire someone simply because they have a different opinion from yours.
Being rational cultivates a workplace of psychological safety. People feel valued and safe with a decisive yet rational leader.
Provide guidance and support
Don’t just provide positive feedback to your subordinates. Tell them what they need to hear and deliver it in a way that details where they can improve—this kind of manager-employee relationship results in better output due to proper guidance.
Here’s what you can do:
Look at the goals.
This applies to any output. Continually assess how the proposed output of the employee will relate to the goals of the project.
Make sure you also provide suggestions on how the employee can improve their work performance. For instance, you can suggest ways they can manage their workflow better;
Conduct weekly 1:1s
Make sure these 1:1s are with each employee. Such 1:1s will allow you to get an insight into how your staff goes about and how they feel about their work.
Guidance from positive leadership nurtures psychological safety in the workplace, where employees feel they’re genuinely helped and listened to. The guidance also shapes employees to be better, giving them a sense of purpose in the workplace.
Proper guidance sets your team on a concrete path by guiding them to major milestones through small, digestible tasks. Supporting your team also hones personal relationships with them.
Providing guidance and support is positive leadership. It’ll result in positive outcomes for your team.
Transparency is critical when handling a team. Authentic leadership development involves being bare with your team and answering any questions that concern the company.
Transparency also earns the respect of team members. If you’re hiding something that concerns any employee, or the entirety of the company, your staff will quickly catch on.
So if there’s an imminent downsizing or some critical business decisions to be made, have a communication plan ready to inform all affected stakeholders.
Psychological safety fills a team that can trust its superiors concerning company information.
Positive leaders’ transparency also fulfils the employees’ sense of purpose. When employees know they’re working for a transparent company, they feel they contribute to an honest effort to make the world a better place.
The Path to success is also made more apparent by the transparency of positive leaders. Whether the company is meeting the goals on the roadmap or not, this information should be disseminated to staff. Everyone should know where the company stands.
In addition, transparent leadership styles foster genuine personal relationships with the workforce.
Ask for feedback
As mentioned earlier, you must give your employees constructive feedback that’ll benefit their workplace growth and personal lives. However, in the same manner, positive leaders ask their employees for feedback on their leadership behaviours.
Here’s how you can gather employee feedback.
These 1:1s meetings are also a good opportunity to ask everyone for feedback on your leadership style, which is critical for leadership development;
These suggestion boxes placed in strategic places are great for collecting feedback from employees who want to maintain anonymity.
There is not one true leadership style applicable to every company. The applicable leadership style will depend on various factors, including the industry you’re in, the size of your company, the office set-up you have, and the types of people you work with.
For the best leadership development, gather feedback from your staff. Generating feedback promotes psychological safety as your employees will know their opinions are valued.
Gathering feedback also fulfils employees’ purpose. If positive communication results in positive leadership, your staff will feel they contribute significantly to the company.
Positive leadership is necessary for a company to succeed. In addition, positive leadership increases productivity among employees and nurtures better health among your staff. Positive leadership encourages, whereas negative leadership drains.
Positive leadership effects provide psychological safety, purpose, a clear path to success, and progressing positive relationships with the people you work with.
To meet these effects, a positive leader should be rational with business decisions, provide support and guidance to staff, be transparent with information that concerns the company, and be willing to ask for feedback from the employees. That last one creates positive communication between leaders and the workforce.
Be a positive leader and nurture a positive work climate. You’ll grow your company much quicker that way and could end up on a business list of the best places to work at.
About the Author
Tomasz Niezgoda is the Marketing Executive & Partner at Surfer, a platform that merges content strategy, creation, and optimisation into one smooth process.
With almost a decade of experience in the industry, he is responsible for incorporating and executing marketing strategies. Currently, he manages a team of 4 wonderful experts.