Have you ever wondered why you love to work with some people and hate to work with others? Have you ever noticed some people are always surrounded by others, like bees around honey, and other people less so? Have you ever come across people who seem to have it all, and are always happy regardless of what life throws at them, and others who are always miserable and forever complaining it’s someone else’s fault?
Over the years I’ve come to realize that what you get in life and how happy you are at work depends on your attitude. And, attitude can impact performance, so listen up leaders and all others…
In my view, there is very little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference! The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
If you have a positive attitude you see positive solutions when faced with challenges. When you stop focusing on the negative you will be more open to seeing a way to resolve the problem versus just sitting around and complaining. A positive attitude is key for having positive outcomes.
Positive people take light of stressful situations.
How does attitude affect behaviour?
We tend to assume that people behave in accordance with their attitudes. However, social psychologists have found that attitudes and actual behaviour are not always perfectly aligned. After all, plenty of people support a particular candidate or political party and yet fail to go out and vote.
Researchers have discovered that people are more likely to behave according to their attitudes under certain conditions, including:
- When your attitudes are the result of personal experience.
- When you are an expert in the subject.
- When you expect a favourable outcome.
- When the attitudes are repeatedly expressed.
- When you stand to win or lose something due to the issue.
This is good news for leaders as it means that, unlike personality, attitudes are expected to change as a consequence of experience. My belief is too that attitude comes mostly from learning, and there have been many theories supporting how attitude is formed, i.e. classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning and social learning theory.
“An attitude is almost like a muscle. You can choose to have a good one. Find ways to exercise it, and make it grow.” J. Beall, in There Will Always be a Tree (2010).
So in order to influence your own or others’ attitude for better results, try the following steps:
- Start role modelling the attitude you want to see. Words don’t mean anything without the actions behind them. Let your actions speak louder than your words. Your positive attitude is reflected in the way you act and the way you work. Don’t just talk about it, behave in accordance with what you expect others to be doing.
- Balance art and science in persuasion. People can be motivated to listen and think about the message, thus leading to an attitude shift. Or, they might be influenced by characteristics of you as the inspirational, emotional speaker, leading to a temporary or surface shift in attitude. Messages that are thought-provoking and that appeal to logic are more likely to lead to permanent changes in attitudes.
- Provide feedback: Don’t forget that feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication. Effective feedback is communication that motivates and encourages employees in a positive way. Positive feedback should be:
- Accurate – give credit where credit is due.
- Relevant – make sure it relates to performance objectives.
- Timely – provide feedback regularly instead of waiting for a yearly evaluation.
- Specific – identify the exact reason or circumstance for the feedback.
When I think about great leadership and attitude the words from the Dalai Lama come to my mind: “My attitude is to give everyone some of my time. If I can contribute in any way to their happiness that makes me happy.” I share his attitude. If I can contribute in any way to everyone’s happiness that makes me happy.
What about you?
Do you as a leader give others (aside of your team) some of your time to contribute to their happiness and attitude every day?
What attitude do you choose to have in work tomorrow?
Leave us some comments and share your point of view with us.
Coming soon… I’ve reached out to some senior leaders in the company and asked them about their individual experiences and thoughts about leadership. So stay tuned, there is more to come!