Encouraging positive attitudes in the workplace

In a leadership role you can often feel the onus on you to build a positive work environment.  While this is a core role of leaders the danger is that leaders solely take on this responsibility.  What about the staff themselves?  Shouldn’t they take some responsibility themselves to bring positive attitudes to their work and interactions with others?  The challenge, however, is how do you encourage them to bring these positive attitudes?

We’ve recently stumbled across a couple of techniques, which we have used in our role of facilitators, that might also be useful to leaders generally.

The first is not so much a technique, but more of a question that can be posed to individuals or groups of people.  Recently at a seminar on the science of intuition, the presenter Grant Soosalu (the developer of multiple Brain Integration Techniques) spoke about the role of the head, heart and gut in decision-making.  Whilst this was a fascinating subject, the most powerful element of the seminar was a question that Grant posed to us in his closing comments that he uses everyday for himself:

What is the most compassionate, creative and courageous ‘me’ that I can be and do today?  [you can see the link between head (creative), heart (compassion) and gut (courageous)].what is most compassionate creative courageous me

I thought it was such a fabulous question that I used it in a workshop the next day – there was a strong likelihood that some of the participants in that workshop would bring a sceptical/cynical attitude into the room – so I asked everyone to think about that question as I framed up the day.  Not only did we manage to have a positive vibe in the room for the whole day, there were numerous references made to elements of the question by participants to each other during the various activities.  It struck me that this is a question that leaders could regularly pose to their people (or indeed themselves) to really encourage individuals to bring their best selves to the workplace.

The second technique is also a series of questions.  This approach has been developed by Marshall Goldsmith and is outlined in the attached short video.

In essence he challenges people to think about how they participate in meetings – if you knew you were going to be tested on these 4 questions at the end of a meeting, how might you want to behave:

Did I do my best to:

  1. Be happy?
  2. Find meaning?
  3. Build positive relationships?
  4. Be fully engaged?

How to have a better meeting - M Goldsmith


Again, the intent is to put the onus of responsibility on people for their own attitudes and behaviours that they bring into the workplace.  I don’t think it just applies to meetings – why not challenge people everyday they come to work with these questions?

So, as a leader, the opportunity exists to share the load in building a positive work environment by making it everyone’s responsibility!