Positive Leadership

Think of the last time you were engaged, energized and productive at work.? What was going on?

I?ll bet a lot of what contributed to that engaging, energizing and productive experience had to do with a positive leader who knew how to create an engaging work environment.

All too often, we leaders focus?our time on creating strategy and?crafting tactical plans.? What gets neglected is the? reality that true success or failure lies in our ability to influence the behaviour of the people who will be executing the plan?our team members.

Leading effectively is all about fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need to accomplish your goals.? People are the core of any organization and positive people practices will propel you and your organization to achieve new heights of performance possibilities.

Individuals, teams, leaders and organizations achieve their greatest potential when a positive, solution-focused and strengths-based approach is at the heart of your organizational culture.? It has long been clear to most of us that leaders create culture. ?Well, how about you?? Are you a positive leader?

Whether at home or at work…what you think, feel, and do determines what you?ll get back from others.? Are you getting what you need?

Positive Leadership is about?energizing people to partner with you to achieve their maximum performance potential.

Positive Leadership is:


Positive leaders are connected to the organization and driven beyond personal gain or achievements.? Then, they help the team achieve meaningfulness and purpose, by connecting the core values of team members to work outcomes, and by focusing on the long term impact and benefits created by the work.

What purpose does your team or department serve?? What does the team value?? How does your purpose serve others?


Positive leaders model hope for the team and for the organization.? In order for others to buy-in to the leader?s message about positive change, the leader must exude a sense of optimism.? To build your capacity for optimism, tune in.

What information are you choosing to focus on? Does that information nourish or drain your sense of hope? ?With whom do you surround yourself? Do those people?add to, or take away from,?your sense of hope???You can take steps to bring more of what adds to your sense of hope into your work and your life.


Positive leaders recognize who has the expertise and drive to take the lead at any time, and the positive leader gladly shares the leadership role.? When this happens, the leader not only reinforces a key leadership practice of building team capability, but?also inspires others to do the same.

Who on your team is ready to take a leadership role?? Have you shared everything you need to share so that the team is ready to assume leadership?? Do you provide autonomy to develop other positive leaders?


Positive leaders develop a personal sense of ownership and self-management.? They share the purpose, vision and values of the organization, on purpose, and engage others to?do the same.? Positive leaders are self-aware and attentive to the whole system; seeing and realizing new possibilities.? Positive leaders walk their talk and recognize and reward team members regularly.

How can you produce a sense of ownership on your team?? Do you walk your talk?? Do you make your intention clear?


Trust is the foundation of any successful team or organization (or family).? It is a prerequisite for authentic connection and healthy relationships.? A positive leader who is trusting helps to open people up to be honest in their communication.? Honest communication facilitates open dialogue to create the level of commitment and accountability required for positive team results.

Do you ?trust first? or do you wait for others to trust you before you trust them?? What do you do to instill trust in others?


Leadership is infectious.? It is ?viral?.? The leader?s behaviours are transmitted through the entire organization; they? permeate and influence every activity.? Leaders?affect organizational climate when?they personally induce, develop and display emotion….with a particular emphasis on positive emotion.? Positive emotions broaden people?s minds and their ability to perform, while negative emotions narrow scope and coping ability.

What kind of infectious agent do you want to be?? What has been the effect of your leadership on others?


Vulnerability and authenticity are intertwined.? Positive leaders understand that in order for others to truly engage with them, the leader must be authentic, and that takes a measure of vulnerability.? When we ?play a role? at work; we are not our true, authentic, vulnerable selves.? Positive leaders share their fears, weaknesses, and mistakes as easily as they share their joys, strengths and successes.? They know that their role is not to have all the right answers (because they definitely don?t have them all) but instead is to ask lots of questions.

Are you vulnerable?? How often do you ask your team ?what do you think???


To be emotive means to relate to, appeal to, and express emotion.? All of these are practices of a positive leader.? While a range of emotions are a part of the normal human experience, researchers have found that work teams with a 3 to 1 positive-to-negative ratio were more productive (and satisfied) than teams that did not reach that ratio.

Are you empathic and understanding of others? emotions?? Do you appeal to other?s positive emotions as a way of motivating action?? Do you congruently express your emotion, inspiring trust in others who will see you are more authentic?

There is a lovely quotation by Steven?Stein and Howard Book from ‘The EQ Edge’ that I think sums up the essence of the missed opportunity if you aren’t practicing Positive Leadership:

?You might be as sharp as a tack, but if you can?t convey what you know to other people, you?re in trouble.? As creative and skillful as you might be, if you?re unaware of how you relate to others, if you behave disdainfully or angrily or impulsively, no one will stick around long enough to admire your skill and creativity.?

What are your thoughts?? How has a positive leader impacted you?

Deri Latimer, B. Mgt., CSP, is an expert in possibilities for people! She is one of the top 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional, the speaking profession?s measure of excellence in professional platform skill. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri helps individuals and organizations optimize their performance by managing their energy; applying the latest research and practice in positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, and employee engagement.

Play to your Strengths!

In my early years? report cards there was a theme; ?okay student? talks too much?. It was true! I was a social animal?well, at the very least, I seemed to be unable to control my need to interact with people around me. It wasn?t until years later, that I realized I was an Extrovert. I needed to be able to interact in order to be able to learn. Because the environment was like most learning environments of the time, where ?quiet? and ?order? were valued, I tried desperately to BE QUIET. I was able to sustain that for a period of time?then my ?natural? tendencies would rise up (and it continued to get me in trouble with my teachers). I thought there was something wrong with me. Why could other kids perform well in this environment? Was I defective in some way?

I, only later in life, realized the significance of this experience. I was not at my best when I was quiet (unable to interact with others)?my ability to learn suffered, my overall performance was marginal?and my motivation tanked!

I wonder today if my teachers of the time would be at all surprised with my career choice. I am a professional speaker. I get to spend each day (at least those days when I am not creating new material) interacting with others?being energized by (and hopefully energizing) others. I would not trade this career for any other. I am truly in a position to operate from my strengths, most of the time, when I am working.

One other comment made by my early teachers was that I was a ?daydreamer?. Well, guess what? I still am! (Another ?problem? that is actually an ?strength?.) I think it?s that strength that feeds my creativity ? which keeps me personally engaged in what I do and around which I get most of my positive feedback from clients.

What are are your strengths? It?s sometimes not an easy question to answer. I?ll bet that you know that there are times at work in which you are energized and engaged; and there are other times in which you are not. Therein lies a clue about your strengths. Chances are ? when your energy (and performance) is high, your strengths are in use. If you are interested in determining your strengths, there are some online resources available to you. Martin Seligman?s website, Authentic Happiness, features several assessments that are free of charge. You can also keep a simple journal, noting times at work when you are energized and engaged?what are you doing?

How much opportunity do you have to play to your strengths at work? According to Marcus Buckingham, author of ?Go Put Your Strengths to Work (among other very good reads), only about 12% of us play to our strengths at work.

I speak about this topic ? and several related to this topic ? every day when I am keynoting a conference or leading a workshop. I cannot describe how exciting it is to watch people begin to be energized about the possibility of using their strengths more at work. It can be a transforming experience for them?you can actually see them change before your eyes! Their skin colour, posture, and overall way of being changes. Imagine capturing that transformation on a more permanent basis in workplaces everywhere!

Well, you can do more than imagine it! No matter what, you must begin with yourself. Start seeking more opportunity to do the work that energizes and engages you. Talk to your leader and share your ideas to play to your strengths more often. I cannot imagine a leader who is not interested in hearing about how you can positively impact your satisfaction and your results.

I saw this video recently?it brought a tear to my eye. It reminded me about the importance of allowing myself, and then others around me, to be who they are and play to their strengths. The possibilities are endless! And, you never know who you might serve, or SURF, in the process!

Service Dog to Surf-ice Dog!

Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I recently returned from The First World Congress on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.??In keeping with the P theme -?one word encapsulates my experience there: Powerful!? What follows is a summary of a few of my key?take-aways from the Congress.

Ed Diener spoke on ?New Findings on Happiness?: there is a difference between wanting and liking?happiness is?impacted most when we learn to WANT what we LIKE.? You might WANT the high-paying executive job, but not LIKE the work that comes with that job.? If you LIKE the outdoors, learn to WANT or desire finding work that helps you do what you?LIKE.? He also shared some findings about the latest Positive Psychology research, like the study you might have read that said married people are happier.? Diener said the newest research is showing ? not so much that married people are happier ? but that happier people tend to be married!? Interesting?

Giovanni Fava, from Italy,?spoke on??Well-Being?Therapy?: he?shared?a powerful example of how?people can identify and modify dysfuctional beliefs (or thoughts) to?positively affect their well-being.? For example, if you keep a journal of your internal dialogue throughout the day and you notice a?thought like ?I can?t do this?, you can immediately decide to change the thought to ?I can?do the best I can and see what happens?.? They key is to identify the dysfuctional thought and then consider a modification of that thought, and notice what happens in terms of how you feel.? One way to?modify the internal dialogue is to write down what an ?external observer? might say about the situation that is causing you difficulty; record an alternative interpretation?then notice what might shift for you.

Michael Frese, from Germany, discussed positive psychology at work ? his research confirms that people do best at work when they are active; being able to set goals and take personal initiative positively affect achievement at work.? There is a ?clear and strong correlation between personal initiative (which engages and ignites positive emotion) and performance?.

Raymond Fowler discussed positive health and positive aging in his session ?how to?die young as late as possible?.? He made a compelling?argument to support the point that when you die is?a matter of choice ? or a series of choices (eating, exercising, all the stuff we all know).? Positive emotion is critical in a long life; happier people are healthier (fewer bad habits, better nutrition, take better care of themselves).

Barbara Fredrickson discussed Positivity ? the Pathway to Flourishing.? She shared her ?positivity prescription? on 3 to 1 to reinforce that you need the levity of positivity to counterweight the gravity of negativity.? Fredrickson shared her ?Broaden and Build? theory of positive emotion; when you experience and express positive emotion, you live longer.? It?s not enough just to ?be positive?, the positive emotion must be genuine and heartfelt.? To create a mindset of positivity. be:

  • open
  • appreciative
  • curious
  • kind
  • real (authentic)?sincerity counts!

Visit Fredrickson?s website for free resources.

David Cooperrider was a true highlight at the conference.? He completely captivated the audience with his hopeful message on ?The Discovery and Design of Positive Institutions?.? Mr. Cooperrider, generous in nature, makes his slides from the conference available at aicommons@case.edu.? The message from Appreciative Inquiry is ?change at the scale of the whole?.? Ai involves a shift to see the world anew.? Mr. Cooperrider shared with us a foundation of AI; that the question we ask determines what we find.? If we look for deficits (what?s wrong here?) we find more deficits; if we look for possibilities (what?s right here?) we find more possibility.? Most organizations look for what?s wrong and let strengths take care of themselves.? AI encourages us to focus on strengths and the weaknesses will take care of themselves.? The approach is 1) appreciate the best of what is,?imagine what might be, design what could be and create what will be.? The key is in the inquiry?the inquiry?must be the change we wish to see in the world (not the one we want to avoid or to eliminate).

The conference ended with some words from Chris Peterson that encouraged us to look in the mirror as we are the future, and Martin Seligman, renouned as the father of Positive Psychology, who introduced a new term, ?Positive Neuroscience?.? I, for one, am looking forward to hearing more about that in the future.? What about you?