LEADERS NEED TO KNOW HOW THEIR
LEADERSHIP STYLE INFLUENCES
– POSITIVELY AND NEGATIVELY
– PEOPLE’S PERFORMANCE.
the optimistic workplace, when chasing
profits is the predominant message a company’s
leaders send. This isn’t to say profit
isn’t important – it’s vital to a company’s
ongoing success. However, a leader with
profit myopia fails to recognize the influence
of intrinsic motivators on people and
their work product.
Silo syndrome afflicts a leader when he
cannot see beyond his immediate responsibilities.
This barrier prevents a leader from
collaborating with other departments. It
also blinds a leader from seeing the impacts
of work on other people’s lives.
With this barrier to optimism, a leader
is unaware of – or doesn’t care – how
work affects employees’ family lives. The
ubiquity of smartphones and tablets
keeps employees plugged into work well
after they leave for the day. While this is
helpful, it can lead to fatigue or burnout.
Neither of these outcomes will help optimism
TO CREATING WORKPLACE
What, then, can a leader do to overcome the
barriers to workplace optimism? Here are
three actions a leader can do to shift how they
lead their team to help cultivate optimism.
Lean on leadership
Leaders need to know how their leadership
style influences – positively and negatively
– people’s performance. The best way
to do this without investing money is to
identify three to five people that the leader
trusts. She can then ask for feedback on
her leadership style and effectiveness.
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Leaders can then use the feedback to
identify changes to her style. She can also
lean on some of these leadership skills that
are linked to cultivating workplace optimism:
humility, honesty, reflection, grit,
resilience, sense making, vulnerability,
noticing, connecting, experimenting and
To overcome the silo syndrome, leaders
can focus on creating a sense of relatedness
between employees. CEO of Canada’s
Tangerine Bank, Peter Aceto, spends the
first 10 minutes of all of his meetings connecting
with employees. Leaders can adopt
this practice to deepen the connection between
people on the team.
When employees don’t have clarity on
team goals or work priorities, confusion,
chaos and frustration set in.
Leaders can create clarity by sharing
the company’s goals with employees.
They can also co-create with employees
team goals that align with the company’s.
This builds buy-in and support for what’s
important to the organization. To make it
a mutually beneficial arrangement, leaders
can work individually with employees
to determine how they can best contribute
to the team goals.
Essential to maintaining clarity is providing
ongoing feedback – what’s working
and not working. Employees want to
know how they are doing. Without feedback,
little professional growth will occur.
Without growth, high performing employees
Mutually beneficial relationships will
thrive when a leader’s style inspires and
motivates, when relatedness is reinforced
and there is clarity in expectations and
performance needs. Not only do these areas
promote workplace optimism, they
also help the team and, ultimately, the
company achieve great results. It starts
with leaders shifting their beliefs about
how to meet the needs of both the company
and its employees. n
Shawn Murphy is an independent consultant
with 20 years’ experience working with
organizations to create workplace optimism.
30 ❚ MARCH/APRIL 2016 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL