14 Proven Positive Leadership Strategies that are Free and Easy to Implement

Three out of every four employees say that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job.  65% of employees said they would rather have a different boss instead of a pay raise.1  

The ability for managers to effectively lead other people is crucial for organizational success, yet thousands of managers are terrible at it. 

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Recent Gallup research suggests only 30% of employees are actively engaged in their work, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Positive organizations can be created.  Google is not on top of the list of best places to work by accident.

There are certain companies, certain teams, and certain leaders that have engagement numbers triple the national average.  You can be one of them! 

 14 proven positive leadership strategies

    1. Model Ethical Behavior – Recognize the importance of integrity as a key driver of executive credibility. Act in ways that are consistent with high standards and ethical behavior. Protect the company’s reputation as if it were your own. Clearly communicate to others the behaviors you will and will not tolerate. Confront and deal with any integrity problems in a timely manner.
    2. Treat Others with Respect – Don’t criticize any of your colleagues in the presence of others at work. Don’t be condescending to anyone by using sarcastic or abusive language, shouting or emotional displays. Don’t use destructive comments or inappropriate humor to get attention. Avoid the rumor mill entirely by not getting involved in discussions about colleagues. Demonstrate how highly you value, trust, and respect your colleagues by protecting information which they have given to you in confidence.
    3. Follow Through – Keep your commitments by being on time, returning phone calls/emails, and meeting deadlines; recognizing that failure to do these things may be seen as a lack of credibility or integrity by others. If you must cancel a meeting, have your calendar available and immediately reschedule.
    4. Identify Your Core Beliefs – What are your core values? What do you really want to accomplish? Be able to demonstrate how each value is evident in your daily life and if it’s not, what can you do to change that? Don’t be afraid to give voice to your core values – this will help others know who you are how to relate to you. Let them know what you stand for as a human being.
    5. Build Trust – Communicate openly and honestly. Share information about yourself with transparency.  Be consistent in your words, actions, and behavior over time. Avoid the appearance of being politically or personally motivated.  Don’t play favorites.  Always do the right thing in the right way.  Actions speak louder than words.
    6. Stay Humble – Avoid acting arrogant or “talking down” to others. Acknowledge what you do not know or when others may know more than you. Admit and correct your own mistakes. Let your contributions speak for themselves; don’t excessively promote your own achievements. Speak up selectively; don’t talk just to be heard.
    7. Share Information – Don’t withhold information in an effort to gain some advantage. This passive-aggressive means of controlling power breeds mistrust. You want to inspire loyalty rather than fear and suspicion. Share your timelines and plans with others, and let them see the progress you make as promised.
    8. Show Appreciation – Show people at work that you appreciate them. Thank them for how they have helped you in some way. Notice when others succeed and tell them. Convey the attitude that everyone’s work is important. When sharing successes to upper management, be sure to credit others’ contributions.
    9. Respond with Empathy – Help others articulate their emotions when faced with a challenging situation. Respect their feelings and allow them the freedom to express what they need to express, regardless of how you personally feel about the situation. Acknowledge and deal with these emotions honestly as a means to build trust. Your discretion and desire to be genuinely helpful will be appreciated.
    10. Emphasize a Collective Mission – Help your associates to understand what excellence means in the context of your department and within the organization as a whole. Explain the interrelationships between the activities of your group and the purpose of the organization. Use inclusive language, such as “we,” “us,” and “team,” whenever possible. Make sure that every new associate understands the mission of the organization, and clarify how success in their role will benefit the organization. Remind people why their work is important and how it makes a difference in the lives of others.
    11. Communicate a Vision for the Future – Have a passion for your business. Be proud of your company and the service it provides. Communicate a clear scenario of the organization’s future potential. Describe a vision of the future to your group, at least once each year. Talk about what is possible. Your optimism will help others look to the future with anticipation.
    12. Demonstrate Optimism – Provide reassurance that obstacles will be overcome. Practice using phrases like “We’ve tackled tough issues like this before. I know we’ll resolve this.” It sends a positive message during a difficult moment. Don’t be naïve or pretend that difficulties don’t concern you, but strive to find the good in every situation and clearly communicate the reasons for your optimism. Your positive approach will be most powerful when others realize it is grounded in reality.
    13. Focus on the Positive – Begin interactions and meetings with a celebration of what is going well. Accentuate the positive much more than correcting the negative (i.e., maintain the Losada Line – a research-validated ratio of 5:1 positive to negative comments). Recognize early successes during organizational change and respond with positive encouragement.
    14. Provide Rewards and Recognition – Identify a variety of rewards for recognizing a job well done. Acknowledge that financial rewards are not the only motivator – recognition, achievement, respect, and satisfaction are also important. Celebrate the goals and milestones reached by your department by highlighting achievements in various ways. Mark the completion of challenging projects with informal celebrations such as a group lunch at a favorite restaurant. Be generous with praise; no one is suffering from too much recognition in their lives.

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1 Greenberg, M., & Maymin, S. (2013). Profit from the Positive:  Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business.

photo courtesy of shutterstock.com



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