by Dr. Sunita Rai
"Leader’s thoughts, behaviours, emotions and habits are a lot more contagious than anything else in the organisation or society. When leaders are aligned within themselves and exhibit positivity, they spread the ‘positive vibes’ of possibilities and creativity throughout the organisation. The reverse is also true."
It’s not a disease, is it? Well, it depends on how you look at it.
I recently had a meeting with a senior HR personnel who talked about grooming their regional leaders and the word ‘contagious’ came to my mind. Well, in a positive way I mean. As I stepped out and went towards the bus stop to wait for a cab, I saw the word ‘disease’ on someone’s text book. Somehow the two words got stuck in my head and I continued reflecting.
Leader’s thoughts, behaviours, emotions and habits are a lot more contagious than anything else in the organisation or society. When leaders are aligned within themselves and exhibit positivity, they spread the ‘positive vibes’ of possibilities and creativity throughout the organisation. The reverse is also true.
Think of Abraham Lincoln who kept his people together through his conviction; Martin Luther King with his dreams and courage changed the USA; Mahatma Gandhi’s belief in non-violence and the independence of India led many to follow his footsteps; and closer to home, our very own Lee Kuan Yew’s courage and determination to transform Singapore from a shipping port to one of the wealthiest nation in the world remains fresh in thoughts of many leaders today. So what do they have in common? Why did people admire them? Why did they have so many followers?
Research shows that people generally follow people who have clear leadership styles, who stand for strong personal values and ideologies, who project positive thoughts, emotions and actions and who are consistent in their words and actions. For example, research by the University of Michigan, supports that when leaders exhibit positive moods, their staff show more cooperation, coordination and effort in completing tasks. Such leaders also motivate others to become self-leaders. We see some common traits among such leaders: they promote leadership in others and will openly praise them; they promote creativity by encouraging innovation and risk-taking; they are supportive even in adversity; they care about their people and their dreams; they stand for their personal values; they have a clear vision of the future and talk and dream about it whenever they can; they communicate openly and honestly amongst others. One key feature we see across these leaders is their ability to stand for what they believe in, their focus on positive affect of self and others and their willingness to invest in their own and other’s growth. Self reflection:
What do you stand for?
What are some strong beliefs and values that you hold on to? How does this impact the way you work?
How are these values aligned with the organisation’s values?
How do you share these values with others around you? Do you share similar values? Does this affect the way both of you interact?
What are some feedback that you have received that shows that people value your thoughts or things that you do? How open are you to feedback? What do you do about the feedback received?
How do people feel when you walk into meetings? Are the emotions positive or negative? What does your gut feel tell you? What would you like to do about it?
Are people following you or moving away from you? What do you think is happening here? What would you like to change?
What regular fun activities do you promote as a leader?
How do you connect with others? How much interest do you have with the people who work around you? What about people’s interest in you?