Management Matters: Positively Successful

Quote of the Week

“Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A “you can do it” when things are tough.”

— Richard M. DeVos

Management Matters: Positively Successful

by Stuart Danforth

Sometimes things go wrong in business. Sometimes there is something the management team could have done about it and at other times there isn’t. But here is a critical question: In the face of negative or adverse events, would it be beneficial for you to have an organizational culture made up of individuals who are typically highly motivated, socially interactive and supportive, resilient, able to persevere, less prone to stress and depression, and solution focused?

Researchers in organizational behavior report that such cultures are not only possible, but that they can be created. Management teams and organizational leaders who attend to some important emotional drives of their employees can create an environment where such positive characteristics thrive.

The field of study I am referring to is “Positive Organizational Behavior” and it emphasizes successful and effective psychological traits that highly talented professionals use in their day to day attitudes and activities. Managers and leaders can begin to build such a positive organization if they focus on and model a few of these contagious attitudes.

Cultivate Optimism. Optimistic people see their lives through a lens of positivity: Good things happen in life as a result of their own efforts while bad things are the result of something outside of their control. Obviously, this can’t always be the case in reality, but this positive way of looking at things has an odd effect – it creates motivation and reinforces achievement: the more optimistic one is, the more likely one is to be motivated, and therefore the more likely one is to achieve.

To some people optimism comes naturally; to others it is hard work. It turns out, however, that organizations are remarkably good places for optimism to grow and flourish.

How did you feel at the last surprise party you were at – did you feel the happy giddiness in the room before the guest of honor arrived? Emotions and attitudes are contagious: when you become involved in a group or organization, it is part of human nature for you to feel similarly to the greater group. As a manager or leader, you are able to direct that group feeling in small ways as your team looks to you in many ways for direction.

Yes, your team wants to know what is expected of them and how to do it; but they also take small cues from you every day about how to feel about the work they are doing. Leaders who cultivate an optimistic out-look within themselves help to transfer that style of looking at things to their teams.

Expect success. Successful people expect to succeed. Even in the face of failure, people with an attitude of success persevere longer and show more resilience when things turn against them. As a manager, you can influence this attitude by providing an expectation of success to your team until this attitude becomes part of their internal expectation.

With your expectation of success must come every opportunity for the team to succeed. Don’t just honor completed goals. Notice when the team makes progress toward a goal in some fashion and show them that it is a critical successful step. Get them thinking about successes they have already completed, and how to reach the next ones. The more you orient the group toward success and acknowledge successful progress, the more this attitude will pervade the team’s thinking.

Interact and support. Leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For an organization to become interdependent and supportive you need to model this behavior and show your group how to do this. Make sure to touch base with organizational members on a regular basis. Know what they are working on and how it is going.

Think about making a more significant commitment as well, such as encouraging professional development and training – but leave the selection of how to meet this requirement to each team member. Then help them decide what opportunity to pursue. Watch how your commitment to their work and development leads to a broader supportive community within your organization.

I haven’t met a businessperson who wants to fail. In the face of adversity, leaders who have spent the time to cultivate optimism, expect success, and interact and support their team or organization will have laid the foundation for surviving and thriving in whatever environment their organization faces.

Stuart Danforth of Danforth Associates, a Wellesley, MA based investment advisory firm that has assisted investors with their wealth development goals for over fifty years.

Coaching Call to Action

This week consider how your attitude and actions impact the group that you work with. Are you leading with an attitude of success and optimism? Are you interacting and supporting the group? If you are not, what can you do to be more positively successful?