By Eric Shaffer
Being, thinking, and communicating in the positive take time and effort and are an absolute must for all leaders.
Imagine you are the captain leading your troops into a battle to overtake a beach. Your troops are on the landing craft protected by a metal bow that soon will lower as a ramp so they can storm the heavily fortified beach. As they get closer to the beach, they can hear the metallic ping of bullets. They can hear the cries of their comrades already in battle. In their chests, they can feel the percussive thud of explosions and they smell burning oil and sulfur. Many are nauseated from the smell and the constant undulations and spiked surges of the waves. They are petrified with fear knowing that at any moment, the ramp will drop and a hail of bullets will shower them with probable death. Do you think your troops would want to follow you if you are complaining about the dangers and whining about the difficulty and the probable lack of success?
In battle, a leader’s pessimism, negativity, and lack of confidence and vision usually produce one result – death. But as powerful as the negative is, and even if there is an insurmountable amount of negative, a positive can defeat it all. A powerful and inspiring leader, who speaks using positive words and vision, can be the light that overtakes the entire negative.
The same can be said for leading your team in business. The business world is a battlefield, and your employees—your troops—are looking for you to guide and lead them to victory. No matter what adversity or obstacles they face, it is your job to be positive and inspire them to achieve success.
For most people, talking in the positive is very difficult. In fact, a study done by Schrauf and Sanchez from Northwestern University found that the ‘working emotion vocabulary’ is typically weighted with words for negative emotions (50%) over positive (30%) and neutral (20%) emotions.
Inherently, the human psyche has the propensity to drift towards the negative. A March 2012 New York Times article reported that negative emotions require more thinking and so the information is more thoroughly processed than positive information. Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, says that negative memories take longer to wear off and suggests it is an evolutionary factor writing, “Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less urgent with regard to good ones.”
People want to follow positive leaders. They want a leader to take a negative situation and shine the light on the positive.
It is your job as a leader to invigorate and lead with a positive vision, attitude and communications. Your team listens to your every word and action; they are looking for you to show them the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Schrauf, Robert W. and Sanchez, Julia (2004). The Preponderance of Negative Emotion Words in the Emotion Lexicon: A Cross-generational and Cross-linguistic Study. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 25(2&3), 266-284
- The New York Times Business Day (March 23, 2012) Praise Is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall