Positive Leadership and its Components


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“Positive leadership is often interpreted as touchy-feely. But the evidence over the last 10 years is clear: if you implement it, performance and customer satisfaction go up. The duty of a leader is to create an organization where it is easy to practice kindness.”
– Kim Cameron
The Positive Leadership model was introduced by Kim Cameron, the Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
What makes this leadership model different from the ones already available? This model talks about the leader’s ability to facilitate positive employee performance. It focuses on cultivating strengths in accordance with working on weaknesses. It also considers the leader’s ability to foster goodness in others.
Sounds interesting? Let’s find out more about the components of this model.
There are four components of this model –

1. Positive Climate

According Kim Cameron, positive climate refers to the condition in which positive emotions predominate over negative emotions Under this concept, Kim talks about the leader’s ability to cultivate 3 main attributes – fostering compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude among employees in organizations. These qualities also help a leader cultivate a psychologically safe environment at the workplace. Psychological safety at the workplace translates into employees feeling safe to communicate their ideas and concerns.
This results in employees experiencing positive emotions at the workplace. Leadership research underscores the importance of cultivating positive emotions in an organization. When employees experience positive emotions at the workplace, they tend to be more productive, experience job satisfaction and are more likely to be engaged with their work. This in turn also helps to reduce employee turnover.
To create a positive climate at the workplace, the leader needs to be mindful of his/her actions. He/She needs to exhibit a positive attitude towards the employees as well as encourage such behavior among the employees.

2. Positive relationships

This component emphasizes the need to create positive relationships at the workplace. A leader can create positive relationships at the workplace by creating positive-energy networks within the organization and encouraging positive-energizers. What are positive energisers you ask? Well, Positive energisers are the people who help others perform their best. They support and uplift others. They tend to be optimistic, helpful, trustworthy and unselfish. Interacting with such a person leaves others feeling motivated and optimistic. Research shows that people who come in contact with these energisers also feel energetic and lively. This creates a positive energy network. The more such networks in an organization, the better relationships within the organization.
To create positive relationships with others, the leader needs to show through her actions that she cares for others in the organization.

3. Positive communication

Positive Communication can be defined as the use of supportive and affirmative language instead of negative or critical one. A leader can encourage positive communication through validating others perspective and opinions, listening attentively, remaining problem focused rather than person focused.
While communicating as a leader, try to stay as objective as you can and refer to the factual information and not the subjective opinions. Leaders create a psychologically safe environment by focusing on solving problems rather than blaming the individual. Psychological safety at the workplace leads to high performing teams, better problem solving and lower employee turnover. The major distinction between positive communication and negative/neutral communication is offering authentic, genuine compliments. If a leader encourages the strengths of her employees, they are more likely to be productive and feel positive emotions, resulting in greater engagement at work.
Whenever your colleagues work on something that you like/admire, do not forget to offer a compliment!

4. Positive Meaning

This aspect focuses on the leader’s ability to help employees see their work as meaningful. A leader can encourage the positive impact that is generated through the work done by his/her colleagues on a daily basis.
To generate a sense of meaning and purpose at work, the leader can also create opportunities for professional growth and development of the employees. Through his/her words and actions, the leader has to help employees align with the vision and mission of the organization. People also experience a greater sense of meaning through their relationships with their coworkers. This also manifests in loyalty towards the organization as a whole because they stick with the organization as they have a sense of meaning at the workplace. Research shows that employees who experience meaning at work experience lower stress and dissatisfaction with the job as compared to those who do not see their work as meaningful. They also exhibit lower levels of absenteeism. Seeing work as meaningful also leads to increase in levels of commitment, engagement and overall job satisfaction.
When leaders become ‘positive leaders’, it leads to happier employees and productive organizations.

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