Attitude is a game-changer. It can determine whether you advance to the next level or stay at your current one. As John Maxwell said, attitude is not everything, but it is the difference-maker in life. For example, let’s say you have two people seeking employment for the same job and they qualify equally across the board in terms of experience, education, background, etc. However, one has a great attitude and one has a bad attitude. Who will you hire? The one with the great attitude, of course. Why? Attitude. It was the difference-maker.
When do you define attitude? Some may say that attitudes are systems comprised of many evaluations made over a period of time during experiences that have an attached emotion. That emotion gets tagged along with the evaluation of that experience throughout the person’s life, unless it changes. Attitude is the way I feel about a person, an object or event. So, if I love sports, I have a positive evaluation of whatever sport I enjoy. On the other hand, if I dislike a certain person or I hate life in general, then I have a negative emotional evaluation of that person or life in general. In essence, your attitude determines what color lens we see things through and how we handle them.
To quote Zig Ziglar: “Our attitude determines our altitude.”
Our attitude is the primary focus that determines whether we succeed or fail. This applies in every area of life.
However, in leadership, it determines whether or not we can make an impact to motivate our employees to maintain productivity, or produce a decline in morale, and therefore productivity.
There is no two ways about it: attitude is everything in leadership.
The attitude of a leader is contagious. It sends positive or negative vibes throughout the workplace. Studies have shown that when leaders exemplify negative behaviors, their employees distance themselves from their responsibilities. In essence, they distance themselves from what they were hired to do. They disengage from the overall vision and mission of the organization. The studies also indicate that they display a lack of care.
A good leader has the attitude of “serving his troops” at all times. The leader is a servant to the people whom they lead, not the other way around.
“A leader leads by example, not by force.”– Sun Tzu
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Lead by example.” In battle, the troops must see the Army Officer in front of them, leading them boldly towards their objective. The leader exemplifies a positive attitude, courage, selfless service, and inspires trust in his followers.
Example-setting is the only way a leader will get his followers to buy into his plan. Albert Schweitzer said: “Example isn’t the main thing in leadership – it is the only thing.”
Steps in getting the right attitude for leaders
As a leader, the higher you go, the more you have to make sacrifices for the good of your employees. As John Maxwell would say, “Leaders have to give up going up.” It’s not about you: it’s about your organization and your people. So you must have the right attitude. My mentors always told me that when you become a leader, it’s not about you any more. You lose the right to think about yourself; it’s all about the people you lead. You have examples such as Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement. He sacrificed not only his family, but his life, to give blacks equality in a society that refused to acknowledge it. Dr. King experienced many hardships – he was stabbed, stoned, physically and verbally attacked by humans and animals, and his house was bombed – and eventually he paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Steps to acquire the attitudes of leaders
As a leader, I follow six key steps to show the right attitude to my employees or team members:
1. Show Empathy. The Leader must show and have the capacity of understanding what the other individual is going through or experiencing. Even though personally they may not have experienced that event, they need to place themselves in the employee’s shoes.
2. Demonstrate trust. Remember that each employee has talents and abilities, and when joined together with those of other talented individuals, you have collective abilities and knowledge that can accomplish results. Give them the autonomy to take charge of the situation or task. Have faith in your people.
3. Provide the necessary tools for success. Give your people the latitude to connect with others within and outside the company such as vendors, customers, and potential future customers. Teach your employees everything you know. In every position of leadership I had, my philosophy was to work my way out of a job by teaching the employees everything I knew. Many leadership positions worked out very well for me, and the operation ran like a well-oiled machine.
4. Acknowledge achievements. Show appreciation and gratitude for the hard work your employees out in over the course of the week, month, or year. Most of my organizations had monthly gatherings to acknowledge new employees, say farewell to others, and to recognize those who achieved and desired high recognition and praise in front of their peers.
5. Encourage collaboration. Leaders need to demonstrate that the workplace is a collective and cooperative environment. And that we are one united organization trying to achieve the same mission and objectives. Never put up dividers between departments or divisions with the organization. Remember, one does not succeed alone.
6. Bring the team together. As a leader, refuse to let dissension and negative rumors poison the organization and your team. Rumor mongering will divide the team or your employees. This adds unnecessary stress and strain.
What are your comments or thoughts?