How To Be a Positive Leader and Inspire Your Team
If you’re a leader at any level of your organisation, you know that the goal is to get people to follow you. But did you know that there is power in positive leadership?
You have the power to help your team members feel inspired, valued and supported. But if you don’t have the right leadership attitude, that power can do more harm than good.
Most people don’t realise that the best leaders aren’t always the ones who tell others what they should do, manage their employee’s time, and ensure they meet KPIs.
Instead, they inspire their teams by leading by example and engaging with them in ways that make their work more meaningful.
According to Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged at their workplace. Having a positive workplace culture is one way to turn that around and make their work more meaningful.
So how do you become a leader who inspires others through positive leadership?
I’ll discuss how being a positive leader can help you inspire your team and make them want to do better work for you—and themselves!
What is Positive Leadership?
Positive leadership is a leadership style that focuses on people’s strengths and potential. It seeks to build a sense of community and creates a culture of continuous improvement.
Positive leaders create an environment where everyone feels valued for their contributions, regardless of what those contributions are.
Ask any successful leader, and they all have one thing in common. They believe in their people and trust them to do their job without micromanaging every aspect.
They create cultures that foster innovation by encouraging employees to take risks and try new things, knowing that failure and success will be part of the process.
You can cultivate positivity by showing genuine and authentic respect, care, and empathy toward your team.
The Benefits of Positive Leadership
There are many benefits to being a positive leader. They include:
- You become more effective at leading your team.
- Your colleagues will respect you and work harder for you because they know you’re an advocate for them.
- When people are happy, they tend to be more productive and creative. If everyone is satisfied, everyone works better together!
- The workplace is stressful enough without dealing with difficult leaders or negative attitudes all day long. So if your company culture focuses on positivity and leadership development, it will make things less stressful for everyone involved.
What Are The Positive Leadership Styles?
There are many effective ways to lead and leadership styles to choose from. But there is no one-size-fits-all style that will be best for every situation.
As a leader, you should never forget that not all people are the same, so the leadership style that works in one situation may not work in another.
Here are the most commonly used positive leadership styles:
The visionary style of leadership is more of a hands-off approach to leadership. Innovative leaders imagine a vision for the future and then set a clear path to get there. They then articulate this vision in a way that inspires others and gives them hope.
This style is ideal for leaders who want to delegate tasks and allow their followers the freedom to work independently on those tasks.
Servant leaders focus on the needs of those they lead rather than their own. They lead by example and create a culture focused on serving others.
This style can be beneficial when employees feel overworked and underappreciated or they need reminding that they are valued members of an organisation.
Using a servant leadership approach is not just a way to motivate your employees. It’s also a way for companies to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. In fact, an eye-opening 79% of employees quit because they don’t feel appreciated.
Coaching leaders take the approach of getting the best out of everyone around them. They ensure everyone reaches their full potential and feels fulfilled. They strongly focus on professional development and providing opportunities and training to develop their team members’ skills.
An affiliative leadership style is a type of leadership that focuses on building relationships with colleagues to improve morale and motivation while achieving goals. It focuses on the well-being of employees, concern for the quality of work they produce, and a desire to take care of them.
Democratic leadership is a leadership style based on the belief that everyone in the organisation should be treated as equals and share the same amount of power. Democratic leaders believe in equality amongst team members and leaders and shared responsibility for making decisions.
How To Be An Authentic Positive Leader
It can be tough to know when and how to show your true colours if you’re a leader. For example, you might be the kind of person who always tries to make others feel good about themselves and their work, but as a boss, that’s not always possible.
That’s why positive leadership traits are so important: it shows that you care about how well everyone on your team performs—and more importantly, how much they enjoy doing so!
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
Essential Skills And Key Traits of a Positive Leader
Leadership is a learned skill, not something you’re born with.
Instead, an all-star positive leader’s skills, traits and characteristics evolve. You can develop them through observation, practice and reflection.
A scientific study has found that leadership is 30% genetic, and 70% learned.
Here are the essential qualities that I believe a positive leader must have to be able to lead their team strongly:
A positive leader must care deeply and genuinely about the well-being of those they lead. You can express this by being considerate of the needs of team members while interacting with them. For example, instead of finding faults in people’s work, a positive leader will observe the employee and approach them to determine if something is affecting their work performance.
A leader must empower the people they lead to make their own decisions and give them the skills, knowledge and resources needed to succeed.
A positive leader must be inclusive in their behaviour by recognising the individuality of others and understanding that diversity strengthens a team’s ability to accomplish a goal collectively.
A positive leader must be honest with employees, colleagues, and superiors by being direct without demeaning or devaluing others. They should also be willing to admit their own mistakes and listen to others’ feedback.
Positive leadership means being respectful of employees’ opinions while making it a point to listen to them and follow their suggestions. It also includes respecting the employees’ privacy and not sharing anything they tell you in confidence.
Leaders who embody being genuine mean what they say and say what they mean. They show their team members their true selves and uphold integrity. Authenticity means a lot to a genuine leader, and they aren’t afraid to show their strengths and weaknesses to their team.
Consistency is a huge part of positive leadership. A leader should always retain clarity and focus on goals. They should also ensure that others understand their perspective and motivations for achieving these goals.
Any good positive leader should give frequent, open-ended feedback to ensure an aligned team and help them improve constructively.
A mindful leader is aware of the world around them while focusing on the positive of every situation. Positive leaders who embody mindfulness observe their surroundings and put aside their biases while remaining calm in all situations. In fact, mindfulness is so important that it has a 91% positive impact on company culture.
Positive empathetic leaders have vital emotional intelligence and understand the need to consider other team members’ feelings, especially when making important decisions. By empathising with other employees, it helps to foster strong relationships and improve a positive culture.
“Leaders instil in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals”. – Unknown
How To Use Positive Leadership In The Workplace
Positive leadership has many benefits:
- You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals
- Build and maintain a strong team
- Create a positive culture at work
- Generally make your employees feel more fulfilled
But talking about positive leadership and putting it into practice in the workplace are two different things.
So let’s look at some strategies I recommend implementing to make your workspace more positive.
Be Sure To Acknowledge Good Work Authentically
It’s important to acknowledge good work for motivation and morale. When someone does something remarkable, you should ensure the team member knows it through positive reinforcement.
Acknowledging good work is also a great way to help people learn. For example, if someone does something right or makes an improvement in their performance, let them know so they can replicate their success!
But, you should only acknowledge good work if it is authentic. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of negativity and distrust.
Help People Develop Their Skills And Strengths
In addition to developing a positive attitude, you can also help build your teammates’ skills.
Please encourage them to learn new things by recommending online leadership courses or workshops. Now more opportunities exist for your team to develop their skills with inexpensive online training platforms such as LinkedIn Learning.
They can also receive a certificate of completion to verify their new skills and share it on their LinkedIn profile. So even just setting aside 1 or 2 hours per week for personal development for staff can significantly impact improving workplace positivity.
You can also encourage team members to take on new responsibilities and give them more challenging work. Doing so will build strength in areas where they may not have much experience yet.
Offer praise that is meaningful and specific
When you acknowledge a job well done, it needs to be specific to be meaningful.
Instead of saying, “You did a great job on that project!” try something like “, I really appreciated how you were able to meet the deadline and still make sure the project was done well. Thank you!”
Praise is also more valuable if given in private instead of public. It reinforces that you value your team as people, not just employees.
It also allows them to process what happened before moving forward with their workday or the next task. This can help prevent burnout from overwork because knowing they are being recognised for their efforts.
It can also go a long way toward building stronger relationships between coworkers. It also shows others what kind of leader they’re working under—one who supports their success and everyone else’s!
Be a source of strength to your team
When you work with someone struggling, be a source of strength and support. Don’t judge them or offer unsolicited advice. Instead, listen to them and help them identify their problems’ root causes so they can make a plan to overcome those challenges.
If your team members are going through difficult times, ask them questions about how they feel about themselves and their job performance at this time. Doing so will help to get a clear picture of what’s happening on an emotional level. In addition, it will help you better understand where they need assistance from you and some space from others around this topic at work until things improve for everyone involved.
Pay attention to your body language and posture
Are they open and inviting? Are they closed off and guarded?
Your team members will respond differently depending on the message of your body language. In addition, it will determine how comfortable they are with sharing ideas in front of you (or even behind closed doors.)
Professor Albert Mehrabian, who is responsible for Mehrabian’s Communication Theory, found that 7% of meaning is what you say, 38% of the meaning is how you say it, and a staggering 55% of all meaning is based on your facial expression.
Having conflicting body language is the fastest way to undo everything else you’ve done to be a positive leader.
Prioritise transparency in your leadership
A common misconception about transparency is that it’s only crucial during a crisis. But the opposite is true. Building trust and accountability in a team takes time; transparency will help you do this faster.
Avoiding transparency can result in confusion, resentment, and distrust among your employees. But, by being transparent about successes and failures—no matter how big or small—you’re setting an example for others on how honesty plays a role in connecting with people.
If you as a leader aren’t transparent with everyone else at work, then why would your employees be?
Show gratitude for the hard work of those around you
Showing appreciation and gratitude helps people feel valued in their roles and shows them how much you appreciate the work that goes into making your team successful.
The best way to lead by example is by expressing how much you appreciate the hard work that goes into a project or task.
You don’t have to wait until traditional appreciation celebrations, like birthdays or holidays, to express your thanks for someone’s effort. Instead, recognise their efforts as soon as possible after they happen. Show appreciation for things like:
- A colleague’s assistance on an important project
- A coworker who helps with extra tasks during their off-hours
- An employee who stays late to finish important work
Help your employees get to know one another better and build relationships outside of work
Building strong relationships with your employees is crucial to creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable and supported. You can do this by helping your team members get to know one another outside of work. Team-building activities, out-of-office lunches, a meetup at a sporting event, or Friday evening drinks are all great ice breakers.
Positive leadership can make you a more effective leader and help strengthen bonds among your colleagues, creating a more productive workplace for everyone. It is also a better way to inspire your team.
It’s good for your health, it’s good for your team, and it’s excellent for your organisation.
Undoubtedly, this type of positive leadership can be challenging at first.
After all, as leaders, we’re only human. So it’s only natural not to have positive thoughts all day in the workplace.
But, with a bit of practice and perseverance—and by following these tips—you will be well on your way to becoming an effective positive leader!
By Sonia McDonald – CEO of LeadershipHQ And McDonald Inc. Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO And Award Winning Author.
Sonia McDonald is changing the face of leadership across the globe. She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, and is known for her mantra ‘Just Lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her transformational coaching, leadership training programs and cultural transformation for organisations and encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped thousands of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
Sonia is a founder and CEO of McDonald Inc., LeadershipHQ and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and Conference. For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of leadership and she is beyond committed to her mission around building a world of great leaders.
She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader. She has been recognised by Richtopia as One of the Top 250 Influential Women across the Globe and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs. She is also rated as one of the Australia’s motivational keynote speakers.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is a leading coach, an award-winning published author of newly released First Comes Courage, Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! and has become an in-demand motivational keynote speaker on leadership, kindness and courage.
Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, kindness, empathy and courage as well as building outstanding leadership across the Globe.