The Power of Positivity

One of my favorite sitcoms, How I Met Your Mother, ended last month. In the final episode the character, Marshall Ericksen, an environmental lawyer, was shown working for a corporate law firm; a job that made him miserable. He had resolved to say only positive things about his job and in one scene was asked how he liked his job. Marshall responded, “I have a very comfortable chair”. This is an extreme example but we do know that there is power in positive thought and focusing on the good in things. As a leader, there are some simple things you can do to help your team stay positive.

Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge included 12 Simple Truths in their book Helping People Win at Work. The book shares the business philosophy “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A”. In other words, give people the tools they need to be successful; if they know what will be on the test they can get an A. Here are a few of my favorite Simple Truths:

Simple Truth 1 – Performing Well: What Makes People Feel Good About Themselves

This Truth addresses the importance of experiencing and then building on success. People need to know they are making progress. It is cumulative; people who get good results feel good about what they do and build their confidence. With that confidence they can go forward and get more good results.

Simple Truth 6 – The Ultimate Coaching Tool: Accentuating the Positive

It is important to catch people doing things right, even if you are only able to praise progress. Some managers show up when they need to correct a problem but forget to point out the positive contributions their team members make every day. When was the last time you went looking for a team member doing something right?

Simple Truth 12 – Celebrate Successes

Look for the good, celebrate it with your team members, and tell others.

I have heard many times from those who work in the public sector that they are limited in what they can do for their team members by regulations. There is no regulation that can limit your ability to approach leadership with the intent to serve those you lead. Be available, remove roadblocks to success, look for and point out the good in people every day. Positivity is contagious and leaders have the ability to spread happiness in their organization. Even if your team never mentions it they will see and react to your example.

In the end Marshall, an aspiring public servant, achieves his dream of becoming a judge. He finds his happiness in his dream job and no doubt spreads his joy every day. How have you helped your team members find their happiness and get an A?

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