I received a call about two and a half years ago from Evan Spiegel, the CEO and Co-founder of Snapchat (Snap). Evan had read The Power of Positive Leadership and invited me to speak at an offsite meeting for his leadership team.
I researched Snap and discovered there was a lot of negativity surrounding the company. Experts said Instagram was coming after their business and they were getting bombarded with negativity and criticism from the media, financial investors, Wall Street, and much of the marketplace.
As I prepared for my talk, I asked Evan what he wanted me to talk about. I knew the people in the room would be many of the most brilliant minds in the industry and I expected to hear words like "research, analytics, case studies, cost-benefit analysis." But instead he simply said, "Help us stay positive. We need to stay positive in the face of all this negativity. We can't let it get to us."
In my talk I did share research, case studies, the cost of negativity, and the benefits of positivity. I find it's helpful when dealing with smart people to make a logical case for positivity. But most importantly I shared how Positive Leaders stay positive to create positive change... and today I want to share a few of these principles/practices with you and your team.
1) Control What You Can Control - It's simple but it's true. You can't control what people are saying and thinking about you. You can't control the competition that is coming after your business. You can't control most things in life but you can control your attitude, your effort and your actions.
2) Create Inside-Out - As I wrote in The Coffee Bean , the world can be like a pot of boiling hot water. You can be like a carrot that gets weakened when placed in the pot or you can be like an egg that gets hardened (bitter, angry, uncaring) in a tough environment. Or you can be like the coffee bean that transforms the water into coffee. Instead of being impacted by the heat and difficult conditions, it instead transforms the environment it's in. The noise, media, negativity, and criticism only have power over you if you let it. If you know the truth that you create from the inside-out, not outside in, then you won't your circumstances define you. Instead you will be like the coffee bean and work to define your circumstances. When you know the power is on the inside and you create the world with your beliefs, passion, positivity, purpose, work ethic, soul and spirit you become a powerful force in the world.
3) Focus on Solutions instead of Complaints - When things are not going well and you are being bombarded with negativity it's easy to complain. But great leaders don't complain. They focus on solutions. If you are complaining, you are not leading. If you are leading you aren't complaining. Instead of focusing on where you are, think about where you want to go and what you want to create. Instead of complaining about what’s holding you back, think about solutions that will propel you forward.
4) Embrace Change - There's a myth that people don't like change. We actually like what change produces. We just don't like the messy transition required to create the change. Individuals and organizations that thrive embrace the entire process of transition and change knowing it leads to improvement and growth. Throughout history we see that individuals and organizations that embrace the waves of change ride it to a successful future. Those who resist the wave get crushed by it. Leadership is a transfer of belief so it's essential that a leadership team shares their positive belief about change with everyone in the organization.
5) Stay Positive and Do the Work - It may sound cliché but it’s a huge key to success. Through challenges, adversity and negativity you must simply stay positive and continue to do the work. You control what you control. Tune out the noise. Focus on solutions. Work hard every day. Embrace change, work together as a team, and create positive change from the inside out. Over time performance improves, the numbers rise, confidence grows, people feel and see the change and then everyone starts talking about why you are succeeding instead of failing.
Do These Ideas Work?
Well, I recently interviewed Evan Spiegel on my Positive University Podcast and asked him about the importance of positivity. He said it had a big impact. If you followed Snap over the last few years you can tell from their growth that they stayed positive, worked together as a leadership team and improved their business. They were no longer letting negativity affect them. They were affecting their company with positivity and Evan said it had the added benefit of recruiting great people to come work for the company. Turns out positive leadership doesn't just help you improve and grow your business. It also attracts great people to it.
How to Become a Positive Leader...
Many think positivity is a soft skill. They act like it's a nice way to lead but I've learned over the years it is the way to lead if you want hard results. If you are interested in learning more skills to better lead your team check out our Positive Leadership Public Training Events and Onsite Workshops for your leaders. I'm passionate about helping more leaders lead this way so we can impact teams, organizations and the world.