Having happy and content employees is important in today’s business environment. Businesses need engaged and productive employees. There also tends to be a relatively high turnover rate at many organizations, and high turnover rates are costly.
Keeping employees happy relies on a positive work environment and company culture, and that starts at the top with leadership. Positive leadership skills are essential in a modern and innovative work environment, but maintaining a sense of positivity is something that many leaders can find difficult. A recent workplace study shows 1/3 of workers report they dislike senior leadership and upper management most in their job.
In our society, we often equate a leader with someone tough, critical, and ruthless. Yes, you can embrace challenges and demand the best as a leader, but you can still be positive in doing so.
The following are some specific ways you can make your leadership style more positive, or you can promote a greater overall sense of positivity in the workplace.
Don’t Create Unnecessary Obstacles
One big problem that employees often feel exists in a negative work environment is unnecessary bureaucracy. When there are too many hurdles and too much red tape, it stifles employees creativity and creates a sense of frustration and resentment.
On the end of the business, unnecessary bureaucracy can lead to a lack of innovation and problems with productivity, so there’s never a good reason for it.
Focus on Strengths Rather Than Weaknesses
A negative leader will often focus only on the negative aspects of employees’ work or skills gaps.
Yes, those things need to be addressed, but balance that with a focus on the positive as well.
The positive often goes unnoticed in a toxic work environment, leading to further problems.
To address weaknesses, rather than framing it as something that needs to be punished, instead, frame it as a learning opportunity.
Working on increasing learning and development options for employees is a good way to deal with weaknesses and gaps, but to do so in a positive and productive way.
Recognition is also pivotal to a positive workplace environment. Recognizing employees for their good work will set the tone in other areas of your workplace and your culture. Recognition doesn’t have to cost anything—all it requires is your time and a willingness to be on the lookout for contributions worth recognizing from employees.
Additionally, reframe what mistakes really are. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and while you don’t want the same mistakes repeated over and over again, if something happens once don’t make it a punishable offense. A positive leader turns it into something to learn from and if necessary, to help everyone change course.
Be Open to Feedback
Employees can thrive when they’re given constructive criticism and feedback, but so can leaders. Too often, business leaders can set the tone that feedback is bad or that they don’t want to hear feedback from others.
Feedback is good, and it can encourage innovation, creative thinking and problem-solving.
If you want your employees to take feedback and use it to improve their performance, you should be willing to do the same. Everything starts at the top of an organization.
You’re Not Responsible for Creating Happiness or Motivation
We tend to equate the idea of a positive leader as someone who provides happiness and motivation to employees. Neither of these is in your control or is your responsibility.
Happiness and motivation are things that need to come within for employees. They will find these when you create a positive environment where they can thrive and do work that’s rewarding, not from business leaders trying to push them into it.
Giving a sense of autonomy and eliminating barriers and bureaucracy are good ways to create a happier workplace and a more positive environment overall. Employees want to feel like they have the opportunity to be the driver of their lives and make their own decisions.
Your biggest role as a positive leader isn’t to tell people how to do things, or even to focus on where your business is currently.
Your role is to create a bigger picture and help your employees see how they fit into that. You create goals and objectives that are lofty but at the same time, achievable, and you focus on how everyone’s going to get there.
When employees feel like you believe in them and you see their value, then you are an effective and positive leader. If employees fear you or think that you only focus on their weaknesses, it’s a culture and leadership style encompassed by negativity.
Interesting related article: “What is Leadership?”