Ten Top Leadership Tips for a Positive and Appreciative 2012

February 9th, 2012 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

At Zircon we use positive psychology throughout our talent management work. As part of our research, Amanda Potter came across the following article written by Sarah Lewis. This looks at using ten positive and appreciative tips to maximise best leadership practice. As we are currently researching the use of positive psychology in talent management as part of large talent management survey, we thought we would share this with you.

Few of us feel at our brightest and most optimistic in the dark, cold days of January, February and March. So how can we help maintain good cheer, hope and optimism amongst our colleagues, employees, leaders, suppliers and customers? Here are some suggestions, it could even be a list of New Year resolutions!

1. Start every meeting by sharing some recent successes.

This is a good idea, no matter the reason for the meeting. If it’s a good news meeting, then sharing and celebrating successes only adds to the positive value of the meeting. If the meeting is to discuss difficult things, then the brain boost of positivity will help people to be creative, to think widely, and to avoid being drawn into the pit of despair.

2. Practice giving feedback

Feedback not only praises people, it lets them know what they did to earn the praise. Giving specific feedback on what the person did well helps both parties. Giving specific feedback feels more authentic than spraying ‘well done everybody’ around in a random manner, it is easier; and it allows people to learn what is valued about the way they work.

3. Acknowledge difficulties; grow hope and optimism

These are difficult times for many of us. There is no virtue in hiding your head in the sand. On the other hand, in the face of bad news, it doesn’t take long for pessimism and hopelessness to take a grip. These emotional states are not conductive to dynamism, creativity and action. So acknowledge difficult realities, and feelings, and move as quickly as respectfully possible into helping people identify sources of hope and optimism; because these states are conductive to energy, motivation and action.

4. Cherish the positive amongst you

We know some people are more naturally positive in their outlook and disposition than others. We also know that people generally like to be around or involved with these people: they make them feel good. Many find themselves at the centre of positive energy networks in organisations. These are highly valuable to organisations, especially when the general atmosphere is demoralised. Find them, cherish them, use them.

5. Develop an appreciative eye and ear

Positive emotional states need to be continually created and re-created if you want to reap the benefits of positivity in your organisation. Develop an eye and ear that are constantly looking or listening out for excellence, exceptional performance, success, tenacity and other things you value at work so you can see it, say it, and celebrate it with those displaying it. Every time you express genuine and authentic appreciation you help grow positivity in your organisation.

6. Be generous with your appreciation and mean with your criticisms

Criticism or correction is of course sometimes necessary and helpful. However, without a counterbalancing measure of appreciation it can lead to a culture of constant criticism or that ‘no feedback must mean I’m doing Ok’ uncertainty. Adding diamond feedback to the mix counteracts the negative effects of necessary criticism and creates certainty about what is wanted, as well as what is not.

7. Be the giver of good things to those around you.

One of the hardest challenges of leadership is getting to hear the important things about the organisation. You want people to feel they can tell you what you need to know to lead the organisation well. The more you thank people for alerting you, telling you, bringing things to your attention the more they will be inclined to do so. The more you praise their bravery in saying something, their attention in noticing something, their dedication in correcting something, the more they will let you know about these things.

8. Cherish the bringers of problems

This, of course, is another way of saying don’t shoot the messenger. Remember that when someone alerts you to a problem firstly they are often being brave, secondly they are creating an opportunity to change something, and thirdly they are also saying they have a sense of how things could be (the dream). Consciously thank them for letting you know and ask them about how they think things could be and follow the conversation from there. Try to get the conversation future facing rather than backward facing into a blame-fest (finding root causes etc. can come later).

9. Learn to spot the strengths of others and to forgive them for not possessing your strengths

Most of us assume that the things we find easy to do are easy to do so anyone should be able to do them. We also often assume that the way we do things is the right way to do things and all other ways of doing this thing are the wrong ways. Learn to let these two beliefs go and you will greatly increase your ability to get the best out of the people around you: find out the valuable things that they find easy to do and help them use those skills to achieve the outcomes needed.

10. Put yourself in situations that allow you to be your best self

Do more of what is valuable, you love doing, and are good at. Become even better at it. You will feel great and be better able to be kind, generous and supportive to those around you. Find other people to do the valuable things that you hate doing and are not good at. Find the people who are good at and love doing those valuable things. You will have two engaged and satisfied workers instead of two half content workers.

This article looks at ten tips for positive and appreciative leadership, which include, sharing successes, giving specific praise and feedback, identify optimism and use those naturally positive people within the organisation, praise people for bringing information to your attention regardless of it being positive or negative information, spot and appreciate the strengths of others.

The last tip, it is important not only to find people strengths but also to find what they enjoy and are good at doing, to have engaged and satisfied workers. Zircon works to use positive psychology based approaches when working with managers and leaders which creates positive change within organisations.

If you have any questions or require any further information about this article or how to use positive psychology to improve leadership and therefore performance in your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact Amanda Potter at amanda.potter@zircon-mc.co.uk

Sources: Adapted from, http://www.appreciatingchange.co.uk/blog/
Lewis, S., 2011. Appreciating Change. Available at:

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