Jon Gordon authored the book "The Power of Positive Leadership" and has spoken before hundreds of organizations about the value and principles of positive leadership, yet he readily admits he is not a positive person by nature.
It takes work to become a more positive person, Gordon says, and that work needs to start at the beginning of every day.
“You can either rise and shine or rise and whine,” Gordon said. “What kind of day do you want to have?”
Gordon shared his insights into how to become a positive force in the workplace in the July episode of the 21st Century Business Forum, a monthly webcast that features one-on-one interviews with some of the nation’s most prominent business minds and thought leaders.
The show, sponsored by CHI St. Vincent, aims to inform and inspire Arkansas business leaders — executives, managers and entrepreneurs — with engaging interviews that yield practical advice.
Gordon said that on those “rise and whine” days, it is important for leaders “to call on our bigger purpose.” Remembering our purpose “will give us something to feel positive about,” he said.
“Why are you here? What difference can you make? How can you serve? How can you help others? How can I encourage others? I find when I’m encouraging others, I feel better about myself,” Gordon said.
The leadership trainer and book author said he believes the biggest challenge leaders face at present is “the exhaustion and pessimism people feel” due to the pandemic and the current tensions in the world.
“You’ve got to lift your people up,” not through rah-rah stuff but through “an emphasis on passion, purpose, mission and vision,” Gordon said.
“Great leaders lead with a vision and mission,” he said. “Where are we going, and why are we going there?”
Most organizations have a mission statement, “but only the great ones have people who are on a mission,” Gordon said, and they will find their way to accomplish that mission.
Taking a positive approach to leading people doesn’t involve sugarcoating tough situations, Gordon said, but rather determining that “we are not going to allow negativity to sour our situation.”
“We are going to find a way forward. We’re going to have the resilience and the grit to keep on going,” Gordon said.
But there is a catch for those who aspire to provide positive leadership to their people, according to Gordon.
“You have to feed yourself (with positive energy) every day in order to feed others,” he said. “If you don’t have it, you can’t share it.”
One way Gordon creates positive energy for himself is to take what he calls “a walk of gratitude,” where he goes out for a walk and recounts the things for which he is grateful in life.
“The garden of your mind looks better and better the more you do it,” he said.
Leaders also “can look at every challenge as an opportunity,” Gordon said. “What can we learn from this? How can we grow from this?”
In addition, positive leaders “embrace change,” he said. “They don’t resist it.” Gordon said those who embrace change “can ride the wave to a successful future.”
Watch previous episodes of the 21st Century Business Forum here.