A good attitude is the most important element in leadership. Period.
Even if you acquired and mastered all of the other qualities needed to be a successful leader, yet failed to develop a good attitude, you will fail as a leader. Furthermore, if you possessed only adequate measures of the other leadership traits, yet nurtured a fantastic attitude, you will excel as a leader. Yes, your attitude is indeed that important! To put it quite simply, your attitude will make you, or break you.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ~ Winston Churchill
How can this be? Well, a good attitude is the Flintstone vitamin of leadership; it automatically boosts all of the other leadership elements. A great attitude can compensate and even overcome a deficiency in another area. If you are a poor communicator, for example, that will hinder your ability to lead, but if your attitude is great, it will automatically boost your ability to communicate, and get you through some rough patches until you are able to strengthen your communication skills.
My mom always set out a Flintstone Vitamin for me in the morning. (I always wanted Dino. He seemed to have a lot of energy.) I remember mom explaining to me the importance of taking the vitamin and how it would help me in Math class, and football practice, in art class, and even playing with my friends. I can’t help but to think of our attitudes acting in exactly the same way. Whatever I am doing, a great attitude will make me even better at it. Make sure you take your great attitude with you everywhere you go.
Imagine you had to work beside one of two people who were equally skilled, who would you choose to work with? Whom would you want to date of two equally attractive choices? Perform dental work on you? And the list goes on. The winner? That’s easy. People with great attitudes!
Just like the Flintstone Vitamin, we can choose to take it or not. It is our choice. When poor circumstances or misfortune come our way we can choose to get negative and hot-headed, or place our thoughts on a new direction.
For years a banner hung in my classroom that read: Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching? It was one of my favorite posters because it packed so much into one small saying. I learned right away as a teacher and coach that my students and athletes would mirror my attitude. If I arrived with an enthusiastic spirit willing to learn, so would my students. If I was short tempered and impatient, well, they would mirror that as well. It’s no surprise then in the work place or in sports that people mirror the attitudes of their leaders, whether they are the CEO or the team captain, the classroom teacher, or the parent. Attitudes are mirrored.
Poems are a powerful way to illustrate a point with lot of emotion. My brother mailed me the following poem to me when I played college football. I guess he wanted me to be a positive role model and leader to his son, my nephew Zach, and other young men.
Little Eyes Upon You
There are little eyes upon you
and they’re watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little boy who’s dreaming
of the day he’ll be like you.
You’re the little fellow’s idol,
you’re the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.
He believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way
when he’s grown up just like you.
There’s a wide-eyed little fellow
who believes you’re always right;
and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.
You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little boy who’s waiting
to grow up to be like you.
Time and time again I have thought back to that poem’s wisdom. When we are in leadership positions people look up to us in many ways, and we must work hard to set a great example. That example begins and ends with our attitude.
If you made a list of qualities that you did not admire and absolutely didn’t want any part, they might closely resemble: laziness, stubbornness, bossiness, selfishness, snobbiness, etc. And really, what are each of these, but nothing more than a poor attitude. I tell you again, change your attitude and you will change your destiny.
The quality that we most admire in others has much to do with their attitude.
“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, tha 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, or a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” Charles Swindoll
One of my friends asked me why I was always so positive. The answer is simple and a very large part my secret to what success I have achieved. I see the world in a very unique way. I view every person I meet, every person I contact, and anyone I come in contact with as if they are the brightest, kindest, most helpful person I have ever met. Furthermore, I truly believe it. I believe that the people I meet absolutely want to help me succeed and assist me. You know what? It almost always works out as I picture it too.
Have you heard about the Pygmalion Effect? It comes from George Bernard Shaw’s story Pygmalion, better known probably as the movie My Fair Lady. The Pygmalion Effect has been incorporated into school settings with teachers and students. When teachers believe they have received the best students, or when students believe they have received the finest teachers, they respond accordingly and excel. (Even when it’s not true.)
I don’t apply this Pygmalion Effect for sheer personal gain. I have always believe people should be measured on their best day, not their worst, and I know from personal experience that most people rise to the expectations they are held, so why not hold everyone to a high expectation. Also, it fits with the Golden Rule; I would want people to expect the same from me on our first meeting.
Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker. His presentations have entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and numerous other venues where people come together to be entertained and improve their lives. Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.