Focus on positive leadership when things go wrong

By Maynard Brusman

Are you appreciated by company managers? Do you have the opportunity to do your best work? Are you clear about what is expected of you at work? Does your manager provide employees focus? People at work who are fully engaged can answer these questions with a clear yes and sense of gratitude.

Most of us start a job motivated to perform our best, but sometimes working for an ineffective manager can negatively affect your motivation. Positive leaders help people tap into their intrinsic motivation to improve performance.

Optimistic leaders inspire people to an inspired future. They have a strong sense of significance and share it with others. Are you a positive leader in good times and bad?

Managing long-term, multimillion-dollar projects that involve dozens of people and several workgroups is a complex challenge and things are bound to go wrong. How managers respond to problems has a direct and measurable impact on both the employees and the project.

Margaret Greenberg and Dana Arakawa in a 2005 Gallup research study found that managers play a crucial role in employee well-being and engagement.

Researchers Greenberg and Arakawa asked employees:

  • "When a problem crops up on my project, is my project manager able to help me come up with solutions?"
  • "What steps does your project manager take when such a problem arises?"

Here's what they found:

  • Managers who maintain a positive perspective don't turn setbacks into catastrophes.
  • They don't fly off the handle; they control their emotions.
  • They recognize what's within their sphere of influence (and what is not).
  • They see and discuss the problem as an opportunity.
  • They provide a solution-oriented perspective.

In other words, they make themselves part of the solution rather than the problem, which frees up employees to tackle the challenge.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders improve their ability to focus on the positive? Leaders at all levels need to improve their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is "Do I focus on the positive when things go wrong?" Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for positive leaders who help their employees to be fully engaged and happy at work.

What actions can you take today to be a more positive leader? What activities leverage your people's strengths? Companies need competent managers and leaders who are part of the solution to vexing problems.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you leverage people's strengths and ensure sustainable business success. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission, and strategy of your company.

About the author:

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm that specializes in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders. Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman board-approved designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

Reprinted with permission from

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