Leadership is about influencing people towards positive action.

Throughout my career I’ve noticed that, at the extremes, there are two possible outcomes to leadership behaviour, which you can characterize as either positive or negative. I’ve since discovered that leadership operates within a self-fulfilling cycle of influence in which a leader’s behaviour is magnified by the dominant behaviour characteristic of that cycle, be it positive or negative.

Inspiring people to positive action is simply not possible when you’re in a negative frame of mind, so we want to minimize the times my leadership is geared towards negative action. Inspirational leaders know they must consciously choose between positive and negative influence because regardless of who you are, the world around you consists of positive, negative, and neutral events, circumstances, and people.

The positive cycle of leadership

Within the positive cycle of leadership, the leader is more attentive to the positive aspects of their surroundings. They don’t ignore the negative aspects, they have an uncanny ability to reframe how they make sense of life’s crap and as a result they tend to feel and think positively. Because they feel and think positively, they tend to behave positively which influences the world around them and the people around them. Bottom line is that they inject more positivity into the world so that it consists of more positive events, circumstances, and people. Which in turn they notice, which causes them to think and feel more positively and behave more positively, and inject more positivity into the world around them, and on and on it goes.

The negative cycle of leadership

When in the negative cycle of leadership, the leader is more attentive to the negative aspects of their environment. They have a hard time seeing the positive in their world and often focus on the negative aspects of it (i.e. win a two-week all-expenses-paid vacation and then complain that it eats up two weeks of their allotted vacation time). This cloud of negativity causes them to feel and think negatively, which results in behaviours that negatively influence their environment and contribute to more negative people, events, and circumstances. This makes it even easier to see more negativity, which leads to further negative feeling, thinking, and acting. Again, it is a vicious cycle of ever-growing negativity.

Spending more time in the positive cycle

I have not met anyone who has not, at some time in their recent life, succumbed to the negative cycle of influence. The key is to spend as much time as possible in the positive cycle and your best defense against being trapped in the negative cycle is to build and develop a grateful frame of mind.

A grateful frame of mind gets you hyper-focused on the good in your world and is a proven way to reframe how you interpret and make sense of the crap in your life, whether that’s at home or at the office. This ensures that you think and feel positively which ensures that the behaviours you exhibit, positively impact the world and the people around you.

To build and maintain a grateful frame of mind so you can be a positive, inspiring influence in the world (and spend more time thriving and less time surviving), I recommend two daily habits:

  1. Make a list of three things you’re grateful for (there’s more on this at What brushing your teeth and gratitude have in common)

  2. Read or listen to what others are grateful for. As a leader, you need inspiration and fuel. Depending on whether the fuel and inspiration is positive or negative influences whether your leadership is positive or negative. You are going to have days where it seems the crap and chaos are insurmountable and gratitude is going to be hard to find. At times like this, other people’s perspective will be priceless. For this daily habit it doesn’t matter whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, which is why we created The Daily Gratitudes Page where you can read tens of thousands of gratitudes and gain the inspiration to fuel you to positive action.

Special Announcement [Fall 2018]

Join me on the journey to the launch of my new book this fall. It’s called “Surviving to Thriving: The 10 Laws of Grateful Leadership” This book is the ultimate guide on gratitude and its importance for spending more time thriving and less time surviving. Through reading the book, you’ll deeply understand how to implement gratitude in all aspects of your life.

Sign up below for email updates about the book and get key gratitude nuggets between now and the book launch!