Positive Leadership Practices
SARAH SCHIMSCHAL

In my last blog post, I looked at Kim Cameron’s positive leadership strategies to enable exceptional levels of performance: positive climate, positive relationships, positive communication, and positive meaning. The implementation of positive leadership strategies is supported by five practices and in this post, I explain these in more detail.

Create a Culture of Abundance

Organisational culture encompasses the norms of behaviour and attitudes in a workplace, often developed over a long period of time. Organisations that are thriving have likely developed a culture of abundance, which is characterised by engaged team members that pursue meaningful work with direction and support from positive leaders. Members of these teams have strong change agility and work together to form positive energy networks.

Develop Positive Energy Networks

Positive energy networks depict people in an organisation who are positively energising. Network maps are constructed by asking people to rate their energy level when interacting with other members of the organisation. Research has shown that positive energy is strongly associated with goal commitment, job satisfaction and firm performance. Furthermore, positive energy is an outcome of thriving interpersonal relationships so can be learned and developed.

“I surround myself with good people who make me feel great and give me positive energy.”
Ali Krieger
Deliver Negative Feedback Positively

Positive leadership is often mistakenly associated with being pollyannaish. However, positive leadership is not about avoiding tough messages or pretending to be happy. Rather it requires having numerous crucial conversations, often in environments where volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are the norm. Positive leaders are able to consistently deliver negative feedback in a supportive way. This type of communication involves authentically describing the event/behaviour, the impact and what needs to change.

Establish and Achieve Everest Goals

Everest goals are SMART and have the following five unique attributes:

  1. Are positively deviant (target abundance gaps)
  2. Represent goods of first intent (good in itself)
  3. Possess an affirmative orientation (focus on possibilities)
  4. Represent a contribution (benefit others), and
  5. Create and foster sustainable positive energy (are energising).

Apply Positive Leadership in Organizations

In order to apply and embed positive leadership, the organisational context needs to be carefully considered. There will likely be a number of competing priorities to be innovative and competitive, while also maintaining control and stability. Thus, positive leaders need to be able to identify and select leadership practices that will best suit their organisation’s priorities at any given time.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker
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