Positive leadership in any situation is a powerful, yet difficult role to assume if there is no guidance for the leader. True leadership revolves around the respect of those who are being led as well as an expectation of guidance and positive collaboration.
Being able to fill that role is not always easy and requires a more thorough look into what qualities and skills make for a successful leader. The assumption is often made that positive leadership revolves around an innate trait that certain people possess, but should be reinforced as a practical skill. And with any skill, one must put it into practice.
What is Positive Leadership?
Positive leadership is a non-toxic approach in a world where increasing work production is essential. It is a product of positive psychology intended to improve co-dependent relationships, whether it be a sports team or office team. Ultimately, they are a set of theories that emphasize positive emotions and behaviors believed to be at the core of accomplishing any endeavor.
In addition, it paves the way for more productive positive modeling in leadership, which increases work solidarity. The most popular styles, according to organizational psychologists, include:
- Authentic Leadership Development
- Transformational Leadership
- Charismatic Leadership
- Servant Leadership
- Spiritual Leadership
Authentic Leadership Development
Authentic Leadership relies on the genuineness of the personality of the leader through a lifetime of events (be it positive or negative) to be the guide for success. This style can be seen as the most authentic to subordinates as it comes from an angle of growth gained by years of experience.
This style was made popular in 2003 by an author named Bill George. Many positive leadership examples can be found in well-known celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffet. Essentially, it stems from their childhood (struggling ones included, in the case of Oprah Winfrey) and can be tracked and connected to their later core values and accomplishments.
Transformational leadership is akin to mentoring subordinates as it focuses on the leader creating future leaders. The goals are aligned with the followers’ goals, which ultimately benefit the larger company. The leader must be the force behind the team’s vision.
Communication is the mark of a great transitional leader since it teaches leaders to recognize their employees’ needs. Better relational development is key to resolving workplace conflicts, maintaining a positive atmosphere, and gaining respect. Intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence are major components regarding the proper approach.
As group motivation is ideal, a charismatic leader takes on the role of a charmer. It is removed from a genuine sense of leadership for a more tactical approach. The focus is more on what people desire and less on the bigger picture.
True charismatic leaders should be charismatic, confident, and passionate, as well as empathetic and possess humility and self-awareness. One can adopt these positive leadership characteristics, but it is preferable when it comes from an authentic place.
Unlike the other styles, leadership with servitude is non-traditional, as it shares the power through the practice of humility. The head is devoted to the growth and needs of individuals.
This theory was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf, who wrote an essay in 1970 named “The Servant as a Leader.” He described it best, of course, when he wrote: ‘The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?’
Some worry in authority-oriented workplace cultures that an attitude such as this will not garner respect. However, a servant-leader can incorporate other styles, particularly the transitional approach since the two are similar.
The most unique form of leadership “incorporates vision, hope/faith, and altruistic love to motivate oneself and others in order to have a sense of spiritual survival.” The common goal unites the employer and employee and ties together personal responsibility for everyone to maintain morale and work towards the common goal.
The theory originated in the intrinsic motivation model, a belief system that revolves around intellectual curiosity. Intrinsic motivation ties itself to better performance, but at the behest of the individual. In other words, the employee’s self-desire is overruled by the negative alternative of being controlled externally.
How to Lead with a Smile
Joyce E.A. Russel, a 25-year licensed industrial and organizational psychologist, says that positive leadership ensures “the development of their employees as well as being leaders who intentionally enhance positive emotions...”
The word “intentionally” implies commitment and personal responsibility. You want to make it known by those you lead that you are mindful of them. The power of positive leadership is effective because it melds best with leaders with integrity.
She goes on to say that there is a noticeable difference between negative and positive leadership: positive leadership is great for job satisfaction and performance, psychological well-being, creativity, and going above and beyond. Negative leadership is shown to cause turnover, stress, anxiety, and job burnout.
The difference can be seen emotionally, as negative emotions breed a negative environment. If one perceives a place to be a negative environment, they are likely to have low energy, increases irritability, and affect overall performance. Ms. Russel encourages setting the tone, and through the following characteristics and skills, one can lead with behavior and skill.
The willingness to be a leader is Ms. Russel’s strongest argument as well as self-care. If you feel better, you will do better, which makes you more prepared to take on the role. You are more likely to display positive leadership skills by bringing positive energy into the work environment.
The following are examples of positive leadership characteristics inspired by Ms. Russel’s tips:
- Integrity – uphold standards in the workplace to better achieve goals.
- Ability to delegate – be a leader that solves problems effectively and willingly.
- Empathy – listen to the concerns of each individual; many issues are often shared by more than just a single employee.
- Communication – foster rapport to better discern each employee’s personality types and build off their opinions and differing values.
- Self-awareness – recognize one’s miscalculations and correct where necessary.
- Respect – recognize each employee is valuable and work with them in solidarity.
Each of these tips recognizes that the employee is the soul of the business. As the head, how you conduct yourself reflects onto your subordinates. If there is a poor work ethic, the likely issue stems from dissatisfaction with some aspect of the job.
Positive leadership supports stepping in from an angle that takes the naturally tyrannical and overbearing associated with “strong” leadership. Employees respond to someone who genuinely cares and appreciates them because it’s not enough to be just a leader; with practice, you can be a role model.