Leaders must be aware of their attitude at all times. Fact: Attitudes are inherited by others. If a leader is negative, others will be negative. If a leader is excited and motivated, the same holds true. What is most unfortunate, is when leaders forget how infectious negative attitudes can be. All the big problems and big opportunities are brought to a leader’s attention. How to react is a choice. If the issue (good or bad) will end up requiring a team effort, does it do any good to inject negativity into the environment from the onset? Absolutely not, but it can be easily done by mistake without proper control of emotion. Therefore, we must be self-aware of our emotional state, and make sure that the attitude we are projecting is reflective of how we really want things to move forward.
Couple of examples:
- Stress inflicted attitude: Assume things are extremely busy because the organization is growing. If those that are having to do the work react in negative ways, how does this change the attitude of others in the organization? By complaining, others may perceive growth to be a bad thing. This example is likely one of the most prevalent we see, and those that fall into this trap are doing so subconsciously. When one complains about the workload they have, others perceive it as them wishing that nothing would change and that the organization would stop growing (the perception is that they wish they had less work to do). So rather than being excited about growth, others interpret growth to be something that is not wanted. Talk about demotivating others! The better attitude is a “bring it on, and keep doing a great job” attitude. While the leader may not “feel” like this due to their current stress level, they do deep down and it is the attitude they should portray since good leaders are going to figure out how to deal with long-term growth and they understand how it important it is for everyone to keep growing.
- First reactions to a potential problem/change: Assume we hear of an issue from an outside source, which we immediately perceive to be negative and potentially damaging. At the point of the news being definitive, we have a choice of how to react. Assuming there are positive pieces of news with the coming change, and that change is required, it would not be in our best interest to talk negatively of the situation in front of our team. Instead, we should acknowledge potential issues, while driving home the positive side of the situation. Starting out negative makes for an uphill battle in team motivation/success, and success requires buy-in from every member of the team.
Others watch leaders and take notice of their attitude. Attitudes form assumptions. A positive attitude is not required 100% of the time, but ensuring our attitude reflects the goals of the organization is a requirement. Be sure to ask the other leaders in your organization to keep you in check on your attitude (It is best to cut out all potential drama and have a clear and honest relationship with everyone so that everyone knows it is ok to confront one another about their attitude). I know if I go through my day with a frown on my face, I expect someone on the team to ask me what the problem is. And when they do, I always appreciate it and adjust.