On leadership and negative thoughts

Leadership and Negative Thoughts

From here:

Humans experience an average of 60,000 thoughts a day. That’s one thought per second in every waking hour. Amazingly, 95% are the same thoughts repeated every day. On average, 80% of those habitual thoughts are negative, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Those stats seem amazing on face, but when you consider them a little more, it’s actually probably logical. Habits are insanely powerful in terms of our daily behaviors. The “80 percent are negative” stat is kinda crazy; if you believe that fully, it means that essentially 4/5th of human existence is a negative, depressing experience. Wowzers.

This has powerful implications pretty much across your life, including:

  • Friendships
  • Romantic relationships
  • Co-workers
  • Random people on the street
  • Leadership

I’ll focus on the last one for a second.

Here’s the next section of the same article linked above, to start off:

Great leaders counteract negative thoughts with positive actions. Jim encourages leaders to participate in at least five encouraging exchanges prior to having any corrective conversation.

Jim is the CEO of the Performance Assessment Network, FYI.

“Five encouraging exchanges prior to having any corrective conversation” is pretty good advice, especially because most managers confuse ideas like “accountability” with “scaring the crap out of someone.”

If you really believe that 95 percent of your employee’s thoughts are habituated, repeated thoughts — and then you subsequently believe that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative — then you have a real responsibility to guide people to a positive place where you can. After all, who does really good, forward-facing work from a place of fear and concern? Most people probably produce much better from a place of hope and positivity. Phrased another way? You’re not managing deliverables and targets. You’re managing people’s energy.

Think about this, too: 88 percent of rewarded and appreciated projects begin with a simple question. That question?

What difference could I make that someone would LOVE?

Think about the key words in that sentence: “difference” and “I could make” (implying you have control over some aspect of it) and “love.”

That’s literally the opposite of concepts like micro-management, no purpose, hate, etc.

That, to me, would seem to indicate that the goal of a leader is to move someone’s habitually-negative thoughts into positive action. Leadership, thus, is about empathy.

Here’s a final thought off that article. They also mention this:

Jim encourages leaders to look at the competencies each job requires and the skills team members possess to make sure that each person is well matched. Do not be afraid to make a change. When you place people in roles that give them the highest probability of success, you help them and your organization.

This is a huge thing that grinds my gears about most places I’ve ever worked or observed: no one really knows what half the people do, and then everyone goes crazy if you ask what certain people do. I know people don’t want their stuff getting called out because they’re chasing The Temple of Busy, and that’s fine — we all need ways to cope in this world, be it drugs, alcohol, sleeping, fucking, arts and crafts, or whatever else it is. But when roles are unclear, deliverables become muddled, and when deliverables become muddled, what’s the tie back to any real strategy?




Ted Bauer

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