Positive leadership isn’t the same thing as “soft” leadership

Sometime, when people are urged to take a positive approach to leadership, there is some push-back. Some people seem to equate “positivity” with being super-nice, but being kind is much deeper than a spewing of empty compliments like “good job” or “nice work” or “super!”

You can’t be too kind. But, you can be too soft. That is the difference, and I’ll admit that I have had trouble sometimes helping folks understand the difference. I just read Good to Great and have taken quite a liking to Jim Collins’s phrase “rigorous, not ruthless.” This is the message for leaders who would like to be positive. In fact, participants in Group Dynamic workshops are often trained in the art of “behavior –> outcome” statements. (Covered in an earlier post). This focus on behavior, and the high standards of the organization, can be done in a way that is positive, not negative. In a way that is rigorous, not ruthless.

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Leaders increase effectiveness by changing things up

I’ve been reading about the Adaptation Principle. This can take on many forms depending on the venue (it’s very popular in exercise physiology), but in organizations it goes something like this:

When we get used to things, we don’t notice them as much. We also don’t think about their meaning.

Examples:

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Things successful leaders avoid saying (Part 1)

today’s blog, take one:

Yesterday, while reading a very insightful blog post, two things were striking:

1) The post had very valuable ideas for all of us who teach and lead.

2) The writer of the blog consistently used his own successes to make his points, and used the words “me”, “myself”, and “I” quite liberally.

Using those words – AND using himself as the best example of the practices he was promoting – was quite distracting from the content.  He damaged his credibility with all the self-reference and bragging.

———–

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Leadership Problem: Grace vs. Enabling

Cut people some slack.  Really, you never know what kind of a day they’re having, how bad their insomnia is, whether they’ve suffered a major loss, or whatever other darkness they carry.

Paul had an iPod in class, and earbuds in his ears.  This is a no-no, and standard procedure is to temporarily confiscate it for the day.  I reached out my hand, and he gave me a steely glare and said “It’s mine.  I’m NOT handing it to you.”

Uh-oh.

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Attitude is not Everything. Listen to Batman and Focus on Behavior.

I love this quote from Batman Begins:

“Bruce, deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it’s not who you are underneath… it’s what you do that defines you.”

As a leader, parent, and trainer, I confess that I cringe when I hear someone try to pump people up with an “attitude is everything” approach.

While it’s helpful to our own motivation to have a great attitude, it is unwise to focus on the “attitudes” of others, especially as a “cure-all”.

Why?  Here are some thoughts:

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