What attitude did you bring to work with you today? Seems like a silly question, but in reality, very few leaders are aware of their attitude at any given moment. Psychologists define attitude as a learned tendency to evaluate things a certain way. Most people are aware if they don’t feel well or if they are hungry, but few have taken their emotional intelligence to a level where they can acknowledge at a given moment what is their attitude and how it is impacting them and others around them. One of the greatest gifts a leader can bring to a team is to acknowledge their attitude and the impact it plays on relationships, the performance of their team and everyone around.

Some leaders who are described as having a bad attitude exhibit behaviors of being pessimistic, lazy, rude, gossiping, late on assignments, quick to tell you something can’t be done or spreading ill will and discontent. Other bad attitudes are developed by events such as an unhappy customer, boss or a team member who undermines your expectations.

The problem with a leader who has a bad attitude is it is like a virus…it quickly spreads. A bad manager can ruin the work environment and lower morale for everyone. Managers with bad attitudes are also expensive to keep. When their attitude impacts employees, it usually is felt by customers who will decide that they will find another business with positive people to service their business needs. 

The greatest thing about attitude is that it is the one choice we all have the ability to control. Victor E. Frankl said it best, “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.” Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand it is not what happens to you that determines your attitude but how we decide to respond.

So what happens if you or a leader who you work with has a bad attitude? What we know will not work is to tell someone that they have a bad attitude. Why?  Because people will defend their attitude to their death and they have a goal of outliving you. The only chance you have of changing another person’s attitude is to change their behaviors and actions.

Attitude is one of the hidden ingredients in a company’s culture that are impossible to measure. And a positive attitude and culture make it very difficult for others in your industry to compete. Some say attitude is everything. It may not be everything but a positive attitude will have a positive impact on productivity, quality, service, innovation, and the emotional bond customers feel with your organization. 

The following ten tips will help you as a leader exhibit a positive attitude and build a culture where your team members love coming to work and sharing their positive attitude. 

Develop a positive vision: Vision is a clear mental picture of the future that you can describe in words. Leaders with the right attitude have a positive vision of the future and a deep belief they can turn the vision into a reality. What is important to note about vision is that whatever your vision, negative, status quo or positive, you are right.

Set goals and take actions daily to turn the vision into a reality: Leaders with a positive vision set goals and then take the daily actions needed to turn the vision and goals into a reality. 

Choose positive self-talk: It is impossible to think without using words. And, it is the words we say to ourselves that create our emotions and attitude. It is difficult to have a bad attitude when you are thinking about how blessed you are to be alive and to have wonderful family, friends, co-workers and clients be a part of your life. Choose your words carefully!

Hang out with other positive people: It is hard to be negative about life when you only hang out with positive people. On the other hand, it is a lot more difficult to be positive when the five people you spend the most time with are all negative. Choose your associates carefully.

Focus on job responsibilities, not job functions: In a recent study identifying the most common career-limiting habits, “It’s Not My Job” came in second place. If you want to offer absolutely no help to improving your team or company, this line says it all. Is the task your responsibility? If no one else does the task and it will negatively impact a customer or another team member if it is not done, it may not have been your job, but it is your responsibility.

Think funny: Having the ability to think funny, laugh and not to take yourself too seriously when things go wrong helps in maintaining a positive attitude. Learn to laugh often.

Do what you love: When you do each day what you love to do, then you will never have to get a job and work. It is easy to have a positive attitude when you have passion and love for what you do.

Stay physically fit: When you do what you know you should do; and, stay away and don’t do what you know you should not do, you feel better about yourself. When you feel good about yourself and how you look and feel, positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude

Stay focused on results: Every leader has been challenged with some type of personal or family problem that has a significant impact on their attitude. Whether it is the death of a loved one or one of your kids who is not doing what you want them to do. It is easy to let these negative feelings impact your attitude and drag you down. Stay focused on achieving positive results at work. The only thing worse than feeling bad about your home life is combining it with poor results at work.

Listen to others: As a leader, if you listen and observe, you can tell the morale of your team. If the team is flat or down, it may be related to your attitude. On the converse, when the team is up and highly motivated, there is also a good chance it is related to the attitude of the leader. Listen, observe and determine what attitude you want to project to your team.

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