Simply take a look at the teams you lead and the teams you are a member off, unless you live in Shangri-La, you’ll quickly see we lead and are led in less than perfect contexts. As leaders we can choose (yes it is a choice, most just choose not to see the alternative option) to lead from the positive or lead from the negative.
Common strategies of leading from the negative:
- Actively seek out mistakes
- Focus on the negative impact of mistake
- Let others know of the mistake or impact
- Only use mistakes to engage in deep dialogue
- Intentionally allow/setup new team members to make mistakes
- Tell others of a teams weakness
- When giving feedback only highlight the negatives
- Provide new opportunities without equal coaching/support
How I try (not sure I’m successful as I would like) to lead from the positive:
- Random acts of kindness – make a point of telling team members they are awesome when they least expect it.
- Frame feedback from the positive – when giving feedback focus on the positives and discuss how the negatives can be flipped to the positive
- Don’t dwell on failure – when someone fails they already know it, so don’t get them to relive it just discuss how they would do things differently next time
- Never let someone fail big – small failures are fine, but big failures are my failure as their leader, so provide coaching and support to ensure it never happens
- Never discuss failure in public, it’s a private 1:1 discussion or nothing
- Talk openly about my failures and model failure as learning
Why is it so hard to lead from the positive and why do so many choose to lead from the negative?