Negativity Can Have a Huge Impact on How You Lead. Use This 5-Step Process to Change Your Perspective
Transforming your mindset and negative leadership habits in just a handful of days seems completely implausible, but that doesn't mean a few days and a few positive insights can't change your entire future as a leader.
Changing a habit is not as easy as it may appear. And, as you already know, leading people is not easy either. But, after decades of interviewing many of the best leaders in the world, and hearing personal stories from employees, I've realized that leadership perspective can transform in an instant.
It can happen in a split second: where a positive moment of understanding connects two or more people. And in a heartbeat, a boss (possibly a person who was formerly seen as just a title) becomes a person of true influence--not necessarily by eliminating negative thoughts and behaviors but instead by adding positive.
Here is a five-day plan that can transform your leadership perspective for the future. In fact, if you actually make it a priority, it may change your life.
1. Look for the good stuff.
While it often seems difficult to ignore those things that irritate us at work, it can be just as difficult for many people to spot the positive things that uplift us or inspire us at work. Day one, search for things, people, practices, and tasks that make you happy. Take notes on the aspects of your work that put a smile on your face. Take notes on the people around you that make your job more fun, your work easier, and your results more impressive.
See how long you can make your list. The best leaders I've met rarely mention the things that irritate them. Instead, they see the positives.
2. Give positive feedback.
Once you've made your list of positives, it's time to share. Find the people who are responsible for the things that make you smile and tell them. Remember, your job as a leader is to help others become their best. Letting people know how they impact your work, your team's work, or add value to the entire organization will not only motivate them to repeat their actions but also elevate those activities.
In fact, I spoke with a manager just last week who recognized an employee for calling a client because they had earned an MBA. The employee was just being kind. But the client sent a personal message to the manager that said, "This is why I'll never switch vendors. Your people care." Ever since that employee was recognized, she has reached out to most of her clients just to show she cares.
3. Do something.
By day three, you'll probably already notice a change in your mindset. You'll notice all of the positive things happening in your work life, and the people who make your workday better. Now it's time to think of the ways you can positively impact people around you--not just through words but through actions. Look for things you can do that your team would appreciate--that would make their work easier, more fun, or create bigger results.
For example, I recently heard from an employee who told me that she was working late most nights to finish a project. Her boss noticed and asked if there was anything they could do to help. The employee told me that she said, "I think I've got it." But then she joked, "I just worry that my husband is feeding my kids." So this woman's boss had pizza delivered to her house for the husband and her kids. "It was so sweet," the employee told me. "I wasn't struggling with my work, but my boss actually cared about my family."
4. Measure results.
Even though it's only been a few days, I would bet that you could already find some small but measurable results. Maybe you created a fresh start to a formerly non-existent relationship. Maybe you noticed a team member's energy change after you recognized their stellar ability. Maybe you've already noticed a change in the way you feel about your own work, or your ability to influence greatness.
If you do feel a change and want to see clearly the results you've created, go back to your initial list and see if you can add changes next to each positive thing you had noticed.
5. Reap the rewards.
If you think it's premature to reward yourself for creating such small results, you're probably right and wrong. If you continue to practice the above list, eventually your results will grow. Your perspective will continue to become more focused on the positive aspects of work, and the positive qualities of the people around you. In fact, some day you'll look back and wonder how such small changes in your mindset created such huge results.
But, that being said, let's not disregard the rewards you've already created for yourself. Research from O.C. Tanner Institute shows that people who give recognition are 26 percent more engaged, experience a 33 percent increase in innovation, and see a 22 percent increase in their own results.
Sometimes it's hard to stop our own negative thoughts and behaviors. And I say, quit trying so hard. Instead, add positive thoughts and behaviors. You'll be shocked by what this can do for your leadership future.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.