Encouraging Self-Leadership & Creating a Positive Leadership Culture

When things aren’t going well at work, it is easy to fall into a pattern of blaming others, gossiping or playing the victim, but, even when frustration is justified, these are self-defeating strategies. Things may not be perfect at work, but it is up to each of us to apply self-leadership skills to find solutions that work for ourselves (and hopefully for others as well).

I define leadership as actions and behaviors that influence the actions and behaviors of others. People exhibit leadership every day, even without a formal title and often without even thinking of themselves as leaders. I try to give positive feedback when I see people doing a good job whether at work or in everyday interactions (such as with sales clerks). It feels good to acknowledge helpful, friendly behavior, and I never know when I might positively influence someone. We need a broader and more inclusive understanding of leadership.

Think about applying these concepts in your workplace. “He is just doing his job” might be a counterargument to offering praise, but good work should be acknowledged. Simple heartfelt statements such as, “I appreciate the way you do your job which makes my job easier,” or “You are a good role model for your co-workers” are easy to say when you mean them, and these kinds of actions can be contagious, reinforcing a positive workplace culture.

Ideally, this should start from the top, including leaders with formal supervisory roles, but creating a culture that builds positive leadership is everybody’s job. Author Susan Fowler observes: “In a world crying out for effective leadership, you need to begin with the most obvious source … yourself.”

For further thought:  Are you exhibiting positive self-leadership? Do you recognize how your actions influence others? How often do you acknowledge positive work of co-workers? List three specific actions you could take to reinforce self-leadership skills in yourself or others.  We each have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t underestimate your impact!   

 For more on this topic, read my New Hampshire Business Review column:  https://www.nhbr.com/encouraging-self-leadership/

Douglass Teschner