The power of positive leadership

An engaged employee base represents a key organizational asset and source of competitive advantage in today’s hypercompetitive marketAs numerous studies attestcompanies with satisfied team members achieve better business outcomes in terms of revenues, customer loyalty, stock market returns and corporate reputation. At the same time, they also record lower absenteeism and fewer safety incidents and quality defects. 

The importance of employee engagement is beyond question yet most firms still fall short of the mark when it comes to inspiring and uniting their teamsGlobally, only 15% of workers fall into the “engaged” category based on Gallup’s most recent surveyshining a light on the remaining 85% of employees whose attitudes and performance qualify them as disengaged. Of these, roughly 25% could be described as “actively disengaged” employees, who undercut corporate performance by spreading their negativity and dissatisfaction to colleagues. 

Positive leadership can help organizations boost employee morale 

While there are variations across regionslow employee morale is a worldwide problem with a direct impact on the bottom lineIn Gallup’s 2020 survey, the United States and Canada top the list with 35%, while China and Hong Kong rank last with a dismal 2%. In this context of widespread employee malaise, what can companies do to motivate the teamsFor Prof. Kim Cameron, William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations at Michigan Ross, the key lies in positive leadership. 

In our research on the effects of corporate downsizing on employee morale, we identified an important conclusion: the companies that thrived all applied positive leadership,” he explains. “In this regard, the number one responsibility of a leader is to help cultivate an organization where it is easy to be supportive. When firms practice virtuousness, compassion and kindness, the data is very clear: organizational performance goes up.” 

Positive leaders encourage managers to leverage people’s strengths  

Positive leadership is not about “fake positivity” or overlooking lackluster performance. Rather, it encourages managers to play on people’s strengths and create an environment where team members find meaning in their work. This is the opposite of the conventional approach of homing in on employees’ weaknesses or areas for growth.    

According to Prof. Alberto Ribera of IESE’s Managing People in Organizations Department, positive leadership starts with nurturing a culture of trust, transparency and appreciation for employees. “It’s critical for companies to create a sense of psychological safety where team members feel free to voice their opinions and make mistakes without fear of reprisal. Firms with this approach will be much better positioned to prosper and sustain performance over time”.

 

If you would like to gain new strategies to enhance organizational performance, learn more about the program Become a Positive Leader to Accelerate Positive Change. Delivered jointly by IESE and Michigan Ross, the program is designed for human resource professionals, executives in change or career transformation processes, and leaders who aspire to develop creative, committed and constructive teams.  

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