A Leader’s Attitude is Contagious – For Better or Worse

What attitude did you bring to work with you today?

Unfortunately, very few leaders are aware of their attitude at any given moment.

We talk about attitude a lot, but what, exactly, is it? 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 their attitude at a given moment and how it’s impacting them and others. One of the greatest gifts a leader can bring to a team is self-awareness and an understanding of their attitude and the impact it plays on relationships, the performance of their team, and everyone around them.

Some leaders who are described as having a bad attitude exhibit pessimism, laziness, rudeness, gossip, procrastination, or negativity. 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 having a bad attitude is that it’s like a virus … it spreads quickly. 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’s usually felt by customers who know that they can find another business with more positive people to service their business needs.

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

So what happens if you or a leader who you work with has a bad attitude? Telling someone that they have a bad attitude doesn’t work. 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 a hidden ingredient in a company’s culture and is impossible to measure. Luckily, a positive attitude and culture make it very difficult for others in your industry to compete. Some may even 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:

  1. Develop a positive vision: A vision is the description of your clear mental picture of the future. 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’s important to note about vision is that whatever your vision is—negative, status quo or positive—you’re right.
  2. 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.
  3. Choose positive self-talk: It’s impossible to think without using words. And, it’s the words we say to ourselves that create our emotions and attitude. It’s difficult to have a bad attitude when you’re thinking about how blessed you are to be alive and to have wonderful family, friends, co-workers and clients as part of your life. Choose your words carefully!
  4. 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’s a lot more difficult to be positive when the five people you spend the most time with are all negative. Choose your associates carefully.
  5. 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’s not done, it may not be your job, but it’s your responsibility.
  6. 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.
  7. Do what you love: When you do what you love each day, you’ll never have to get a job and work. It’s easy to have a positive attitude when you have passion and love for what you do.
  8. Stay physically fit: When you do what you know you should do and don’t do what you know you shouldn’t do, you feel better about yourself. When you feel good about yourself, positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude.
  9. 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. It’s easy to let negative feelings caused by these things impact your attitude and drag you down. Don’t let them. 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.
  10. Listen to others: As a leader, if you listen and observe, you can see the morale of your team. If the team is flat or down, it may be related to your attitude. Conversely, when the team is up and highly motivated, there is also a good chance it’s related to the attitude of the leader. Listen, observe and determine what attitude you want to project to your team.

A bad attitude is contagious . . . fortunately, so is a positive attitude. The choice is yours.

(3) Comments

  1. This is a great way to show Leads, Supervisors, and Managers how to control their attitudes and the operation to make the work enviorment positive and less stressful for the entire team. I’m a Assistant Manager at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor and I am printing this out for my management team and introducing this during the meeting.

    Eric O’Brien
    Assistant Manager,SFHHA
    O: (817)640-8900 ext 3818

    “Connecting Visitors and Venues with Purpose, Passion and Partnership”

  2. I have read this aloud in crew safety meeting and supervisory meeting with great results. I always learn something when I read it again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Popular on the blog
beyond-engagement-cover_184x228Free White Paper Beyond Engagement:  8 Proven Strategies to Workplace Excellence

Learn how your organization can achieve results through Workplace Excellence

Download Now

The Manager's Toolkit

The Manager's Toolkit is the one stop action planning website for becoming an even stronger, more effective leader. Managers will read recommendations, related articles, suggested actions, and watch informative videos that will guide them through improving their leadership skills.

Client LoginLearn More