Leadership Qualities: Attitude is Everything.

The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior

Effective leaders know that their response to adversity can be the deciding factor in advancing their enterprise.

Successful leaders deposit their wisdom into those team members that they trust. The attitude of the recipient determines how much will be deposited.

Consider the following case of a newly hired CEO,

Brought in to run a $65 million, family-owned business.  He is the first president from outside the family so he was carefully evaluated.

… during the interview he was asked why he had to leave his previous job.  His response was that he had been fired because he had failed to confront subordinates and hold them responsible for their poor performance.

It was still an emotional trigger for him because he began he showed signs of stress.  He got red and flushed.  He started waving his hands.  He was clearly agitated. He also reported that his NEW boss (the OWNER of the company) had criticized him for the same thing that morning. He also went on and on about how hard it was for him to confront low-performing employees, especially those who had been with the company a long time.  The researcher noted that, “While he was so upset his ability to handle cognitve complexity – to reason – plummeted.”

(Goleman, 1998, p. 22).

Attitudes describe our “overall evaluations of people, groups, and objects in our social world” (Haddock & Maio, 2004)).  Attitudes reveal our decisions about liking versus disliking or favoring versus disfavoring an attitude object. They are important because they affect the way that we perceive the world and how we behave (https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/attitudes/).

In contrast to the mature CEO above, imagine a teenager who has been given an unexpected gift.  Grateful and excited, they smile and extend a hand for receipt.  But, in the handing over, something falls and a small dent is made in what would have otherwise been a perfect item.  But, instead of grumbling, frowning or ranting, the teen picks it up, brushes it off and says, “It’s O.K.  I can fix this part.  I’ll just decorate it with something that I have.”

Wow!  A breath of fresh air to anyone working with teenagers who are known to be moody as they navigate what has been dubbed the “storm and stress” of adolescence (Hall, 1904).  For more on this topic see a video at https://study.com/academy/lesson/g-stanley-hall-storm-stress-in-adolescence.html.

So, the next time that you are tempted to go off the rails because things did not go seamlessly along, put on a smile instead of a frown!  For more on the power of attitudes see lessons from sports at http://www.indusedu.org/pdfs/IJRESS/IJRESS_876_93216.pdf and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

If you have a little more time and you are interested in the power of attitudes to overcome adversity, listen to Nancy Shore Howard’s interview after her husband’s failed plot to kill her at https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-44521209 .

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