column contained a poem
I wrote for 300 freshmen leadership students at Troy University—“Five
P’s for Leaders”—Priority, Positivity, Preparation, Perseverance, and
People. My July 2010 column was on
Priority. This month’s column is on Positivity. During the next three
months I will address the other P’s.
I have studied leaders for years; I can’t recall a negative leader who
was successful for the long haul. I believe there are three reasons.
Leaders must understand that behind every obstacle lurks an
opportunity. When leaders are tempted to be negative, they should
reframe things. Instead of saying what they don’t want to do, they
should say what they want or intend to do. Instead of saying they can’t
do something, they should say what they choose to do. Instead of telling
the obstacles they face, they should refocus on the opportunities.
Don’t be like the mid-level leader who rushed into his boss’s office
shouting, “I have just encountered an insurmountable obstacle.”
His boss chastised him saying, “Don’t use the word obstacle; use
the word opportunity instead. Now go back in an approach me using the
The leader came in again and said,
“Boss I just encountered an insurmountable, er, uh, opportunity.” His
words may have changed, but his attitude did not. Leaders must have a
Leaders must give positive encouragement to others. Without a
positive attitude, leaders are unable to give the positive encouragement
followers need to function successfully. See my
March 2007 column on the importance
of encouraging others. Leaders simply must be encouragers, and they
can’t do it without positivity.
Leaders need to reduce their own stress and the stress of others.
The evidence is clear. Positivity reduces stress; negativity increases
it. Negative stress leads to failure, burnout, and often a downward
For these three reasons and many others, leaders must be positive.