Yesterday I had the honor of being recognized by Dell as an “Inspiring Leader.” It was a wonderful moment, further enhanced by the Dell Legacy of Good report that followed and again made me incredibly proud to be a part of something much bigger than myself. My reaction was gratitude for my team and the people I am privileged to work with. It’s easy to feel inspired and reflect it when you work with kind and intelligent people who contribute their time and talents every day in an effort to make a difference.
I recently heard a talk, given by Mark Bragg, SVP at Bank of America, which resonated with me: “While I was working for a large bank, I was invited to attend an executive program at the University of Michigan. During the program, Professor Kim Cameron taught the concept of positive leadership and its heliotropic effect. He explained: and away from negative energy [darkness]. From single-cell organisms to complex human systems, everything alf a successful workplace culture:
This refers to the tendency in all living systems toward positive energy [light] and away from negative energy [darkness]. From single-cell organisms to complex human systems, everything alive has an inherent inclination toward the positive and away from the negative.
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These are simple principles and ones that any leader can remember – we are naturally inclined to the positive. So, what are some stepping stones to ensure we lead with a positive charge?
- Start by listening. Create safe spaces for your people to speak up. Ensure they have a voice and are able to leverage it in order to drive strategy and operations. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – which means to me, that you, as a leader are just one part but you have the ability to unify and organize the talent around you to create something meaningful.
- Set your people up for success. Make sure they have what they need. When you meet with your team, make sure you are genuinely present. Get off of email, text, etc. Take action items and follow-up – you are just as accountable to them as they are to you. Be invested in them and they will be invested in you and your organization.
- Be transparent. Share relevant information. Be as neutral and fair as possible. Coach them when they fall down – and be honest when you fall down. Failure is part of the building process. Focus on allowing your team to think through their own possible solutions to when they do fall down or hit roadblocks. And make sure you are always clear in communicating expectations – I’ve found that most people really want to succeed and do the right thing – if you help them to know what that looks like, everyone will be better equipped and feel more value.
- Maintain a positive approach. Make sure that you are focusing on what matters. Ensure that maintaining strong ethics and decorum are part of your personal and team brand. Be solutions oriented. If others play dirty, do not get sucked in. Lead your team this way. Treat others this way. Eventually, your leadership will create a ripple effect. The kind of ripple effect that is the best one. [By the way, this doesn’t mean be naive or blind to wrongdoing or abuse within the work environment. Stand tall and defend. You have a stewardship over your people to provide them with a work environment that reflects your values and the stated values of your company for good.]
Within all of these, ensure that compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude are core elements of your successful workplace culture. If you live these daily, not only will you personally be happier, but your team will also enjoy the benefits, reflect them, and create a more engaged and productive environment.