An executive was speaking about leadership. She indicated that that she and her colleagues were trying to create a more positive culture. To do this they were consciously engaging senior people in regular discussions of positive leadership. She described using tools emanating from the Center for Positive Organizations and focusing on examples of when leaders modeled their best self. In illustrating the impact of the efforts she told a story.
In her company, there is a senior executive who is known to be smart and passionate, but at times the characteristics manifest as being abrupt, and frightening. He proposed a new program. All of his people had serious concerns but no one dared to share them.
He walked into a meeting and indicated that he wanted to explore the program. He started with purpose and explained why he believed the program was necessary. This created a sense of vision that was not previously available. It altered some perspectives. He acknowledged his tendency to intimidate. This authenticity was followed by an expression of vulnerability. He indicated that the program was important, and he was in need of their honest feelings. This further altered perspectives. People responded and he listened. The listening brought still more honesty, and ultimately the meeting participants were engaging in how to make the vision reality
The meeting was so productive, that participants began to speak of it as a stellar example of positive leadership. In their corporate discussions, it regularly surfaced. This means that the act of positive leadership not only resulted in a great meeting, it also looped back into the culture and became a point of discussion, a model of positive leadership, and a catalyst for corporate change.
In every act we take, we shape the culture we live in. Most of the time we are complying with the culture and this preserves the status quo. Occasionally we choose to enact our best self and we exceed expectations. This is a moral act that carries moral power. When we enact our best selves, the act violates expectations, attracts attention, and becomes a stimulus for positive change.
- Why is purpose, authenticity and vulnerability essential to positive leadership?
- How did this unconventional, positive act become a catalyst for changing culture throughout the organization?
- Why does celebrating real examples of positive leadership give rise to a positive culture?
- How can we use this passage to create a more positive organization?