A Good Attitude

Provost Blog


A Good Attitude

September 6, 2012

A Good Attitude Starts With a Smile: Attitude is More Than Half the Battle in Creating a Positive Work Environment

Today most work environments struggle with keeping high morale. With increasing pressure to reduce costs, changing consumer buying patterns, lower salary increases, and higher expectations to accomplish more with less people; it becomes challenging for leaders to find ways to increase employee satisfaction.

If you focus too much on the weighty environmental threats that seem to engulf our nation, you can lose sight of a fundamental human expression, if promoted, that can contribute significantly to overall employee satisfaction and morale.

The fundamental human behavior that can essentially change our outlook in life and our work environment is attitude.

What is Attitude?

According to Webster's Dictionary, attitude is a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.

Attitude starts in the heart and moves outward to determine how we will view things. It is a choice. One can decide to be positive or one can decide to feel sorry about one's circumstances and as a consequence be down and self-absorbed.

In leadership workshops, I often use the example of how we approach work is an individual choice. Early in my career, I made it a practice to start smiling on the way to work as a way to pump up my attitude before I walked into the office. The reason I continue to do this simple exercise is two-fold (1) it helps me mentally and emotionally prepare because if you are like me there are days I just don't feel like working, and (2) it helps others because my attitude does have an impact on others and a positive attitude is contagious.

When my wife and I were living and working in Chicago, my wife posted a quotation from Chuck Swindoll on our refrigerator so our entire family could see it – dad, mom and kids. To this day our children often remind us about the quote taped on the refrigerator and how we can each control our attitude. Please take a moment to reflect about what Chuck Swindoll said since it is so important to our daily decision about how we face life and work.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.

Chuck Swindoll

As Chuck has intimated, attitude is the one thing each of us can control and we each can have a lasting impact on others through the very attitude we use to approach our homes and work.

The following are some basic principles leaders can follow personally to promote a positive, healthy work environment.

Seven Ways to Develop a Winning Attitude

  1. Be positive.
  2. Be courteous.
  3. Be genuine.
  4. Listen first.
  5. Be engaged.
  6. Be flexible.
  7. Be optimistic.

So, the question is, “If attitude is both foundational and fundamental to the overall ethos and culture of an organization, how do we as leaders promote and encourage positive attitudes?” The answer is fairly simple. It starts with each leader being deliberate to be positive and to promote a winning attitude. It also means that senior leaders need to place a high value on professional growth and learning. If there is a high value on professional growth and learning, the organization will make it a priority to incorporate periodic leadership training workshops to encourage leaders to keep growing.

Attitude is a foundational principle that needs to be role-modeled and promoted. The deliberate approach by senior leaders to promote positive attitudes can have a remarkable impact on the ethos and culture of an organization.

One closing thought. Sometimes leaders think in overly complex ways. Perhaps it is time to focus on the basics. Take time to promote growth and learning and one starting place is to build a workshop for leadership development around the theme – “Attitude is Everything”.