The Positive Leadership Approach

There are many models for leadership. Let’s consider one of these approaches.

Good leaders are often like good parents. They are positive and predictable. They also enable motived people to achieve peak performance.

Difficult leaders are like difficult parents. They are negative and unpredictable. They result is that people feel unsure and unable to do their best.

Good leaders are credible. Whilst being positive, they are good at explaining challenging situations and the possible solutions. People see them as truthful and also sometimes inspiring.

They are predictable. They explain the principles they believe in following and they aim to be consistent. People know what to expect and this helps to create a feeling of predictability.

Good leaders each have their own ways of enabling people to do their best. Depending on their strengths, they may be good at inspiring, educating or a creating a framework in which people can do great work.

They do have one thing in common, however, when taking this step.

They create a positive environment in which motivated people can achieve peak performance.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you demonstrated positive leadership? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have done this when acting as a teacher, coach, manager, leader or in another role. You may have done it when helping a group of people, coaching a sports team, directing a play, leading a project, building a successful prototype or doing another activity.

What did you do then to behave in a positive way and also be predictable? What did you do to communicate the picture of success? What did you do to enable people to do good work and maybe even achieve peak performance?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Positive Leadership
In The Past 

The specific situation when I was positive, predictable and did
my best to enable 
people to achieve peak performance was:



The specific things I did then to follow
these principles in my own way were:




The specific things that
happened as a result were:




Different leaders follow these strategies in different ways. Let’s explore some of these ways.


Imagine you lead a team. On a scale 0-10, to what extent do you believe people perceive you as positive? What can you do to maintain or improve the rating?

Why pose the question this way? Some leaders see themselves as positive, but the way they behave towards other people can come across as negative.

Positive leaders act as good models and create an encouraging environment. The ways they behave can affect people throughout an organisation. Here are two examples that I witnessed.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking at the people you lead or work with, to what extent do you think they rate you as being positive?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the extent that you believe other people see you as positive. Do this on a scale 0-10. Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve the rating.


The extent to which I believe
other people see me as positive is:

___ / 10

The specific things I can do to
maintain or improve the rating are:





Good leaders are predictable. People know what to expect from them and the guidelines they can follow in their daily work. They don’t have to spend time guessing how the leader will behave that day.

Negative leaders can be unpredictable. They can veer from being stable to being sarcastic, ranting or cruel. People spend time guessing the leader’s mood. This does not help them to do good work.

Good leaders are caring rather than callous. They aim to build a positive culture where people are clear on ‘the way we do things around here’. They therefore take the following steps.

They communicate the required professional standards and give the reasons for these standards; 

They personally follow these professional standards and keep sharing success stories that highlight how employees are translating the standards into action; 

They act immediately to maintain the professional standards and protect the culture if somebody chooses not to follow these standards.

Good leaders sometimes go a step further. When taking over a team, for example, they explain their leadership style. People then know what to expect from the leader rather than spend six months guessing.

Different leaders do this in different ways. The following section describes an exercise I have used with leaders to help them explain their leadership style to people.

Afterwards the team members often say that it is good to know what they can and can’t expect from the leader. They can then take a stand towards how they respond.

Imagine that you are taking over a team. Here are some steps you can take to communicate your leadership style to people.

Clarifying Your
Leadership Style

This exercise invites you to clarify and then communicate the following things to people.

The things you will and won’t do as a leader. 

The Dos and Don’ts for working well with you.

The consequences of your style.

Be very honest when completing the exercise. This is about your actual leadership style. It is not your aspirations.

Remember, there are not necessarily good or bad styles. But there are consequences. Below is the exercise. This is accompanied by an example of what one person wrote when communicating their leadership style.

Your Leadership Style

If you wish, find an appropriate time to share your leadership style with your team. I have often invited leaders to do this during a leadership team workshop, but other times can also be appropriate.

Providing it is communicated properly, the response is normally positive. People like to know how their leader operates, so it’s good to make the implicit explicit. They can then take a stand towards how they work with you.

This exercise also works with leaders who have been with a team for a long time. After one such leader shared it with their team on a workshop one person gave the following reactions.

“We have been working together for five years, but this document sums you up, warts and all. For example, it took me six months to figure out that you have a memory like an elephant, even though you seldom write anything down.

“At first I thought you weren’t paying attention during our conversations, but later you could recount every detail. Now I tell new starters to ignore your body language, which can be a bit disconcerting.  

“They need to know that you notice every detail about them and the conversation. Some people find this intimidating, but most eventually get used to you.

“I wish somebody had told me your rules when I first joined the team.”

The leader who gave the examples mentioned above later met with me. They explored how to build on the pluses and minimise the minuses of their style. They explained this in the following way.

“Building on the pluses, I will continue to provide direction and give people the tools they need to do their jobs.  

“Aiming to minimise the minuses, I will spend one hour with each person each month. Ahead of the meeting, I will ask them to do some preparation. 

“I will provide them with a framework they can use to send me an email describing:

The specific things they have done well during the past month and how they can build on these;

The specific things they can improve in the future and how;

The plans they have for the next month and the practical support they need from me.

“We can have some quality time together. I will aim to help them to keep developing and also make their best contribution to the company.”

Team members often appreciate the honesty a leader puts into this exercise. Some leaders also invite their people to do a similar exercise about themselves. 

Good leaders are predictable. Even though, in some cases, this means that people know that the leader is sometimes unpredictable in a positive way.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking at yourself as a leader, describe the extent that you are predictable. Do this on a scale 0-10. Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve the rating.


The extent to which I am predictable is:

___ / 10

The specific things I can do to
maintain or improve the rating are:




Some leaders maintain predictability in their teams or organisations by taking the following route. They appoint custodians who ensure people keep focusing on the core principles. Let’s explore this approach.

The Custodians Of
The Culture Approach

The custodian approach is used in many teams and organisations. Here are some definitions of the word custodian.

A person who is responsible for protecting or taking care of something … A person who protects particular principles or ideas … A person who guards or maintains something that is valued.

Great organisations appoint many custodians who embody the desired culture. Such people are often demonstrate the following qualities.

They are strong characters who are caring and consistent;

They embody the core principles and act as good models;

They translate these core principles into practice – especially in challenging situations – and deliver concrete results.

Some organisations say they have such custodians in place, but they have not followed these guidelines. They have instead appointed a committee or people who don’t follow the agreed principles.

The following pages describe two examples of where I have seen the custodian approach work successfully. These are drawn from teams and organisations in different fields.

The Startup Company

During the early 2000s I acted as a mentor to a digital startup. The company grew exponentially to a successful sale within five years. One reasons for this was that it built a positive and peak performing culture.

The CEO had certain strengths. He was good at providing an inspiring vision, clarifying the strategy, getting financial backing and being a thought leader. Aware of his weaknesses, he built a good leadership team.

The CEO also nominated three senior people to act as custodians for the culture. These people continued to perform their professional roles. When appropriate, however, they reminded the leadership team of the company’s principles.

They did this in a positive way. At certain times, they would say something like the following.

“Looking at the challenge we face, there seem to be several options for going forwards. Each of these have pluses and minuses.  

“Bearing these in mind, it may be useful to return to our core principles. As you know, our principles are: 1) To … 2) To … 3) To …

“Looking at the possible options, which of these will fit closest to our principles? What else could we do to ensure we are following our principles?”

The company kept returning to this compass. It used the principles as the basis for recruiting people and also for educating staff how to find solutions when faced by challenges.

The company was sold after five years. The buyers said that one of the main attractions was the company’s culture. Unfortunately the buyers destroyed the culture within a few months.

The CEO and several leaders moved on to founding another company. They again focused on pursuing certain core principles and their business proved successful.

The Sports Team

One football manager I worked with used the custodian approach when taking over an ailing team. He brought in three senior internationals who were respected by players in the existing squad.

The three players were good models. They acted as what people call cultural architects. They provided inspiration and the club went on to win its first national trophy.

The custodian approach has been adopted by many other teams. Some managers appoint what they call a leadership group. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The key factor is to appoint players who demonstrate the required professional standards. Some managers put talented but difficult players in the leadership group. This produces mixed results.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may want to use elements of the custodian approach?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

The Custodian Approach

The specific situation where I may use
elements of the custodian approach may be:


The specific things I can do to use elements of
the custodian
approach in the situation are:




The specific benefits of
taking these steps may be:




Peak Performance

Good leaders often combine personal humility and professional will, says Jim Collins. Writing in his book Good To Great, he says that such people – those he calls Level 5 Leaders – often get the best from people. They also create a positive legacy.

Such leaders enable motivated people to achieve peak performance.  Different people do this in different ways. Depending on their strengths, they may be good at inspiring people, educating people or a creating a framework in which people can do great work.

Some lead a team that focuses on its purpose, follows its principles and achieves its picture of success; 

Some lead a team that focuses on its values, translates these into a clear vision and does valuable work; 

Some lead a team that enables people to flow, focus, do fine work, finish and find fulfilment; 

Some lead a team that encourages people to build on their strengths, do superb work and achieve ongoing success;

Some lead a team that follows Robert Greenleaf’s approach to servant leadership – they serve the people who aim to serve a particular cause.

Good leaders realise that they are judged by the performance of their people rather than just by their own performance. This is an obvious but often overlooked concept that can come as a profound realisation to some leaders.

Benjamin Zander, the conductor, described his own insight regarding this concept. This came when he was invited to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic. Here is a summary of what Benjamin said.

“Walking into the auditorium for the first rehearsal with the orchestra, I had a realisation about my role as a conductor. This came as an epiphany, because in the music world the conductor is seen as all powerful.   

“My realisation was this. It did not matter how much I waved my arms around. The audience was going to judge my work by the performance of the musicians in front of me.”

People leaders need to develop certain skills to create superb teams. One rising leader I worked with in a giant tech company had such an epiphany. Here is the gist of what he said.

“For me this will mean changing my mindset. I have got to this stage of my career by being driven and hitting certain targets.

“I now want to be a good people leader. Whilst I have some of the necessary skills, I want to learn how to create a framework that helps other people to succeed.  

“I’m not sure how this approach will be perceived, however, because we are still an organisation that rewards individual performance. But I want to help the people in my part of the business to thrive and perform at their best.”

The Positive Approach To Giving
People Empowerment Within Parameters

Good leaders start by clarifying the specific outcomes the team aims to deliver. They then clarify the strategies people can follow to achieve the picture of success.

Such leaders sometimes involve their people in adding ideas. When doing this, they communicate the parameters within which people can make suggestions. They incorporate some of these ideas in the plans for achieving the picture of success

They then make clear contracts with people about their parts in achieving the aims. This includes giving people empowerment – within parameters – about their best contributions towards achieving the picture of success.

Imagine you want to take this approach. Here is one framework that you can adapt in your own way.

Different leaders take this step in different ways. One leader gathered their team together and said something along the following lines. (I have omitted the quotation marks.)

The Picture Of Success

Welcome to the session. I want to give you the big picture about the specific outcomes we aim to achieve in the next year.  

This involves delivering certain results in terms of our profitability, our product quality and our people. We want to create wins for our company, our customers and our colleagues.

As you know, there are certain mandatory things we must deliver. We have also added other stimulating projects and these have been included in the goals.

I want to share the key strategies we aim to follow. I also want to explain the reasons for pursuing these on the way towards the picture of success.

After doing this I am happy to take any questions. We will then move on to the next stage.

The Parameters

I then want to involve you in adding your ideas regarding the strategies and the picture of success. It is only fair, however, to explain that these need to be within certain parameters.

As mentioned earlier, there are certain mandatory goals and other things we want to deliver. Bearing these in mind, I would like you to share the specific suggestions you have:

To add to the goals;

To add to the strategies and how these can be implemented successfully;

To add to anything else you believe we should consider – this includes giving you the support needed to deliver success.

After collecting these ideas, we will and discuss these together. We will then settle on the plan for going forwards to achieve the picture of success. 

The Personal Contributions 

We will then move to the next stage. This will be to make clear contracts with you about the outcomes you will deliver towards reaching the goals.

We will also give your freedom – within certain parameters – regarding how you apply your talents. We will also ask you to proactively keep us informed about your progress toward delivering the picture of success.

This is an approach I have seen used by many fine leaders. Let’s look at another example.

The CEO of one company adapted it when involving people in clarifying the company’s values. Bringing together twenty four managers from around the world, he asked me to run a two-day workshop in London.

One week before the session he contacted me to express a concern. Here is a summary of what he said.

“I am bringing together these people, but I am worried in case they come up with values I do not believe in. What do you think we can do?”

Talking about this issue, it transpired that there were two key values he believed the company should follow. He did not want to go through the pretence of trying to get people to come up with these values.

We agreed that, as the founder, he had the right to define some values he wanted the company to follow. At the same time, he wanted to give his managers a sense of ownership.

We therefore created an email to send to his managers. This was along the following lines.

The Values Workshop Next Week 

I am looking forward to seeing you all in London next week. As you know, we are going to be working on creating the company’s values. Bearing this in mind, there are three things I want to mention.

First, as the founder, I obviously believe that we should follow certain values. At the same time, I want to make sure you have some ownership of creating the values. 

Second, I do not want to bring you all to London on false pretences. Therefore I would like to start with two values being in place. These are:

1) To …

2) To …

The reason I believe in these values are because … 

Third, I would like to give you the chance to add to these values. This is important, because it is vital to involve you in creating and then living the values.

I wanted to let you know the guidelines before you come to the workshop. I hope you are still happy to come along and then we can craft the rest of the values together.  

Please contact me if you have any questions before then. I look forward to meeting you in London.

The CEO’s people responded in a positive fashion. Many said it was good to know the guidelines for the session and they later contributed superbly to the workshop.

Many years later the company still takes a pride in how it lives its values. This was helped by the CEO being clear at the outset. He gave his people empowerment within parameters.

Enabling People To
Achieve Peak Performance

Let’s return to your own situation. Imagine that you lead a team. How can you enable motivated people to achieve peak performance? Here is one practical exercise that I have seen work.

You Can Clarify Each Person’s
Preferred Working Style

This is an approach that can be used in one-to-one meetings. If you feel it would be useful, however, you can invite people to do the following exercise individually and then share their work in a group setting.

The next section explores this second approach. There are several points to bear in mind when doing the exercise.

The exercise is most effective when each person in the team wants to deliver professional performances. You can then help them to make their contribution to the team’s picture of success.

The exercise is not about working in a group setting with individuals who are delivering poor performances. You can hold those kinds of discussions elsewhere in a one-to-one meeting.

Start by asking each individual to complete the following pack about how they work best. Explain that the team will then meet together to explore how to build on people’s strengths.

Explain that the sharing will be done in a positive atmosphere. It will not be about getting people to change. Several points are worth bearing in mind when introducing the exercise.

Ask people to be as honest as possible. There are no good or bad working styles – there are just consequences. 

Ask them to be as specific as possible. When in doubt, they are to describe things in behavioural terms. 

Talk them through each part of the pack, perhaps giving examples from your own style to bring it to life.

Here is the pack that you can invite people to do. There is an introduction to each part.

Imagine that you have given people time to do these exercises. As mentioned earlier, you can follow up with them in one-to-one sessions. Another approach is to take the following step.

You can facilitate a session in which people
share their preferred working styles

Create an informal atmosphere in which people feel able to share their working style. You may then wish to take the following steps.

Explain The Rules

Each person will have fifteen minutes to share their answers to the exercises. People can ask questions when the team member presents, but mainly for information. It is again worth underlining the following point:

The aim is to understand the person. It is not to get them to change.

Fifteen minutes seems a long time, but it can take longer. If people have done the exercise properly – and the group asks questions for information – it may take up to thirty minutes per person.

Providing you have created a positive atmosphere, you will find that people open-up and are willing to be honest. This is an approach that – providing it is done properly – can help people:

To understand each other’s working styles; To understand how to encourage and get the best from each person.

If appropriate, you can then meet each person to make clear contracts about their best contribution to the team. You can then employ your strengths to enable the team to achieve peak performance.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Peak Performance

The extent to which I enable motivated
people to achieve peak performance is:

___ / 10

The specific things I can do to
maintain or improve the rating are:




There are many ways to demonstrate positive leadership. The following pages describe different ways that people implement this approach.

The STAGE Model of Leadership

The STAGE model works well for leaders whose strengths lie in strategic and emotional leadership. They can focus on these aspects and ensure that others manage the tactical, administrative and grunt work parts.

Imagine you are a leader who has such strengths. Here are some themes to consider when following the STAGE model.

Providing The
Strategic Leadership

Good leaders keep communicating the team’s strategy. Your job is to keep people’s eyes on the following themes.

The What: The specific goal the team is aiming to achieve.

The Why: The specific benefits of achieving the goal.

The How: The specific strategy for achieving the goal.

The Who: The specific responsibilities of various people in working to achieve the goal.

The When: The specific milestones along the road towards reaching the goal.

It is important to keep communicating the big picture, especially when it gets tough. This helps people to make a link between their daily actions and the long-term picture of success.

Managing The Tactics,
Administration And Grunt Work

Good leaders may have grand strategies but these must be translated into action. As a leader, you can try to do everything yourself, but you will then be doomed to failure. Your job is to focus on the strategic and emotional leadership.

Good teams often have a superb co-ordinator. So, if possible, get a co-ordinator to oversee the TAG part. Otherwise the danger is that you will keep dipping down into the detail and fall into firefighting. The co-ordinator’s job is to oversee three things.


It is to ensure that grand plans are translated into tactics that contribute to achieving the goals.


It is to ensure that diaries are kept up to date, meetings scheduled and the hygiene factors managed, otherwise the team falls into chaos.

Grunt Work

The leader and co-ordinator ensure people are equipped and enabled to do the daily tasks and that these are completed.

Imagine you have a good co-ordinator who acts as a mission holder for making things work. They may not actually do all the work themselves, but they do ensure it gets done.

“Must it be one person?” somebody may ask. “I have four people reporting into me. Can’t they all act as co-ordinators?”

Yes, they can. But be wary of having too many people who report to you directly. The danger is that you will turn into a micro-manager, rather than operating as a leader.

Providing The
Emotional leadership

Good leaders harness people’s emotional energy to achieve the goals. Different leaders do this in different ways.

Some are good in one-to-many situations. They give inspiring speeches and provide rallying calls to action.

Some are good in one-to-few situations. They prefer small groups where they can listen, connect with people’s agendas and find positive solutions.

Some are good in one-to-one situations. They provide the personal touch, make individuals feel valued and encourage them to do their best work.

Good leaders play to their strengths. They then surround themselves with people who can compensate for any of their weaknesses.

The STAGE model is just one approach to leadership The keys are the strategic and emotional parts. It is crucial to inspire people to put their hearts, as well as their heads, into achieving the picture of success.

Three Other Kinds Of Leaders

Imagine that you want to be a positive leader. Depending on your strengths, you may thrive in certain types of leadership roles but not in others.

How to identify the situations where you are more likely to succeed? One approach is to distinguish between three kinds of leaders.

James MacGregor Burns coined some of these terms in the 1970s. He mainly studied political leaders, but the ideas have since been researched in organisations, business and other fields. This has resulted in expanding some of the original definitions.

Different organisations may need different types of leaders at different times in their development. So it is useful to know which type of leadership characteristics you demonstrate. Let’s explore the three kinds of leaders.

Turnaround Leaders

Such people love the challenge of turning around a failing system and making it work. They have a strong belief in their own ability to make this happen. They also have the resilience required to overcome obstacles and achieve the goal.

This can be a lonely job. So some take around with them a core team of people who help to make change happen. One such leader said:

“I love to go in and fix things. Maybe it is because of my background as an engineer.

“I analyse what’s wrong and get a picture of what is required. Then I implement the tough decisions required to make it work.

“Interestingly, once it is functioning well, I tend to lose interest. I can take something from 3/10 to 8/10, but am not motivated to take it to 10/10.  

“I then get fascinated by the next turnaround project.”

This is not the case with all such leaders, but I have heard it from many. Some also take the further step of coaching their successors who will deliver ongoing success, but that involves developing a different skill.

Turnaround leaders often have the following characteristics.

They are able to quickly analyse what is required to turn around the project, set clear goals and drive the key strategies to achieve success.

They make clear contracts with their stakeholders regarding the brief and the mandate. They do this to make sure they will get the support needed to deliver the picture of success.

They move into the situation and act decisively. They focus on doing the key things that will give them – and the project – the greatest chance of success.

They may take action quickly, for example, to improve the profits, products and people.

They mobilise people to focus on the purpose, principles and picture of success. They will also implement the necessary tough decisions.

They keep their stakeholders proactively informed. They deliver quick results and make sure there are no surprises.

They keep pursuing the key strategies and get reality checks. This feedback is crucial. They focus on: a) The things that are working and do these more; b) The things that could be better and how.

They overcome obstacles and find creative solutions to challenges. They do whatever is required to deliver the agreed goals.

They may hand over the reins and coach others to achieve sustainable success.  

Alternatively, they may simply move on. They then look for the next turnaround project. 

Transformational Leaders

Burns believed that transformational leaders connect with people on a values level. They translate this into an inspiring vision and energise people to deliver visible results.

Some people love working for such leaders. They are encouraged to take ownership, combine their talents and continue to develop.

Transformational leaders are now seen to go much further than the original definition. Whilst connecting with people’s aspirations, such leaders often take some of the following steps:

They transform an existing system – such as radically changing an organisation.

They create a new system – such as building a successful prototype.

They introduce a new paradigm, a new way of thinking and change people’s consciousness.

Transformational leaders may pioneer the way by changing the rules of the game. They may work as a sole contributor – such as an inventor, writer or philosopher – who shows people a new of way looking at the world. Alternatively, they may prefer to work with people on a tangible project.

Building on Burns’ original definition, they encourage a group of believers who translate the ideas into behaviour and deliver brilliant results. The new approach transforms the way people feel, think or behave in the future.

Transactional Leaders

Such leaders often operate within a given system and make things work more effectively. They get satisfaction from making incremental improvements on the road to achieving success.

Transactional leaders are vital if an organisation is to move from, for example, entrepreneurship to execution to excellence. One such leader said:

“My role is being an implementer. I like to have a clear goal and guidelines within which to operate.

“I then enjoy designing and delivering processes that enable people to succeed. Most of all, I enjoy doing real work and seeing a tangible result.”

Transactional leaders were somewhat tarred in the past because they were seen as process driven. But such leaders play a vital part in delivering the goods.

This is because not much gets delivered without good transactions taking place in a team, organisation or society. Warren Bennis, the respected author on leadership, wrote:

Leaders are people who do the right things; managers are people who do things right.

Good transactional leaders combine elements of both. They enable people inside a system to follow key principles and do the right things in the right way. Such leaders demonstrate some of the following characteristics.

They clarify the goal and the guidelines for implementing the strategy.

They get satisfaction from making things work successfully. So they may double check with the sponsors to ensure they are absolutely sure regarding what must be delivered and by when.

They have high professional standards and demand these from other people.

They are often hard working and diligent people, so they may fall into doing many of the tasks themselves.

It is vital for the stakeholders to ensure the transactional leader has the support to do the job. It is important to encourage the person: 

To keep an overview of the tasks; to hire the right people, those with similar professional standards, and to delegate properly; to keep themselves healthy, because they can burn themselves out.

They translate the strategy into specific tasks that must be completed to achieve the goals.

They design processes that ensure the tasks are implemented properly. They do, if they are good leaders, give people a sense of ownership in implementing these processes.

They perform superb work, solve problems and ensure people deliver the required quality.

They continue improving the system’s effectiveness and efficiency. They keep their stakeholders informed and deliver the agreed goals.

Some people combine elements of being a turnaround, transformational and transactional leader. It can be important, however, for a person to decide which kind of situation they prefer. They are then more likely to guide people to success.

The Setting A
Agenda Approach

This is an approach that is used by many good leaders. They aim to clarify and communicate a positive agenda to people. They may aim to do when:

They are communicating with the public, the media or other groups of people;

They are communicating with their people about the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success:

They are communicating with their people – whether they are running group meetings or having other sessions.

Good leaders aim to communicate a positive vision to people. They do this:

To encourage people and communicate clear and compelling goals;

To show people the benefits of working towards the positive goals; 

To, when appropriate, channel people’s energies towards achieving these positive goals.

Such leaders also recognise that it is important provide a positive vision to fill a vacuum. Otherwise this vacuum may be filled by people with other agendas.

They keep focusing on the vision and, when appropriate, explain the aims. They do this to give people context and the big picture.

They take this approach, for example, when being interviewed by the media. Whilst being prepared to give direct answers, they give these within the wider context. They do not fall into being distracted by the latest item in the 24 hour news cycle.

Good leaders also set a positive agenda for running team meetings with their people. They follow the tried and trusted format for such internal meetings. (This sounds rather basic, but some organisations fail to do such simple things.)

They communicate with their people ahead of time and may position the session in the following way.

The Purpose

The purpose of the meeting is to help us to continue to channel our energies towards achieving our picture of success. We will begin by reminding ourselves of the goals we want to achieve this year.

The Agenda

We will then focus on the following themes that we can follow to achieve these goals:

How to … 

How to … 

How to …

Any other business.

I would like you to come with your ideas about how we can pursue these themes and do our best to achieve the picture of success.

Please let me know in advance about any other topics you would like us to cover. It can also be useful if you can make any suggestions about how we can tackle these issues in ways that help us to achieve success.

We will finish the meeting by aiming:

To agree on the action steps we want to take to implement what we have agreed; 

To agree on who will be the mission holders for implementing these actions and the support they will require to deliver success; 

To, if appropriate, agree on the equivalent of a press release that we can communicate to our people to describe the big picture and the actions we will be taking to achieve success.

Good leaders aim to set a positive agenda. They aim to connect with people and, when appropriate, encourage them to channel their energies towards achieving positive goals.

Let’s explore another way of taking this step.

The Positive Leader’s Approach
To Communicating With Their People

Let’s conclude this section by focusing on how such leaders communicate with their people. They sometimes take the following steps to show people how they can contribute towards achieving the picture of success.

They give people the big picture – such as by reminding them of the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

They describe the priorities the team needs to focus on to achieve their picture of success.

They invite people to make clear contracts about their contributions to achieving the picture of success.

Different leaders do this in different ways, but the aim is the same. It is to give people the big picture – the context – and show individuals that they have an important contribution towards achieving the picture of success.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may want to follow some of the principles of positive leadership? This could be in your personal or professional life.

How can you aim to be positive? How can you be predictable and create an encouraging environment? How can you use your strengths to enable people to achieve peak performance?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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