Monday, June 15, 2009

5 Positive Leadership Strategies

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These are uncertain times. Employees are questioning how their industry and job will be impacted by the current economy. They’re unsure about what action to take. Unfortunately this uncertainly creates what I call a VOID and my theory is that where there is a VOID negativity will fill it.

When there is a void of clear and positive communication people start to assume the worst and act accordingly. At the root, it's all about fear. When we are uncertain, fear and negativity creep in and dominate our thoughts, behavior and actions. This leads to a lack of trust, decreased productivity, poor focus, uninspired teamwork and sub-par performance. Instead of taking positive actions to thrive our teams go into survival mode and just try to survive.

That’s why I believe now, more than ever, is a time for positive leadership. Now is a time to stop obsessing about the recession, get back to basics, create a plan of action, and inspire, encourage and empower your teams. Why? Having worked with countless leaders over the years in businesses, schools and professional sports I’ve realized that great leadership is first and foremost a transfer of belief. So often the difference between success and failure is belief. Positive leaders share their belief, optimism, vision, purpose and plan with their organization and in the process they inspire and empower their teams to believe, act and execute. Positive beliefs lead to powerful plans and actions and this leads to significant results.

However, positive leadership requires more than inspirational speeches. It is a process and there are several steps you need to take to get your team on the bus and moving in the right direction.

1. Make Your Culture a Priority:
Negativity and fear are knocking your people off balance. It’s time to regroup, refocus, and unite them to create a winning culture and team environment. Remember, you win in the office first. Then you win in the marketplace. With a winning team you create strength on the inside that can withstand the negativity, naysayers and adversity on the outside.

I saw this happen first hand with Atlanta Falcons last season. In the face of the Michael Vick scandal, Coach Mike Smith took charge and built a winning team by making the team culture, attitude and synergy his priority. I was brought in to help with this process and we saw and immediate and powerful impact.

2. Share a Positive Vision:
It has to be clear, bold and simple so that that everyone in your organization can understand and rally around it. It also has to be relevant to the challenges you have faced and the direction you must go. As a leader you must share this vision every day with everyone in your organization and encourage your managers and employees to do the same. Invite everyone on the bus and energize them towards a common vision, goal and destination.

3. Develop a Fleet of Bus Drivers:
Once you share the vision and invite everyone on the same bus then it’s essential that each person in your organization understand how they can contribute to this vision. This empowers each person to drive their own bus and generates a fleet of bus drivers with your organization all moving in the same direction with a shared vision, focus and purpose.

4. Fill the VOID...Often:
Leaders, you must personally meet with your company and continually share your vision for the future and your fiscal status. Now is not a time to be in your office. Now you must be seen and heard and hear and see. Managers, communicate with your team. Let each person know where they stand. Talk about their fears. Listen to them. Explain your plan of action. Tell them how you plan to win in the marketplace. If you always fill the VOID with positive energy then negativity and fear can't breed and grow.

5. Turn Negative Energy into Positive Solutions:
Utilize your current challenges, problems and complaints as a way to generate new ideas, innovations and paths to success. Study history and you'll find that many successful companies, products and initiatives were born during recessions and downturns. Encourage each person in your organization to ask and answer the following questions:

1. What can we learn from these challenges?
2. How can we improve because of it?
3. What opportunities does it present?
4. What actions do we need to take now?

These are uncertain times and no one can predict what the future will look like but by filling the voids with positive leadership, positive communication and positive action there is one thing you can be certain of - a future where you are stronger, wiser and better than you are today.

Stay Positive!
Jon Gordon