What You Need to Know
- Having a positive mindset is important, but you need more than that for your leadership to succeed at creating the best culture for your advisory business.
- It's best not to ignore employees' negative feelings simply because these emotions make you uncomfortable.
- Instead, try listening to and encouraging others to be open to what they are feeling, both positive and negative.
Do you try to guide your organization with the power of positive thinking?
Positive mindsets are necessary in many aspects of business. But if that’s all you rely on in your leadership, then you may be guiding your team towards results that are the opposite of what you want.
My grandfather taught me a lot of what I know about business and leadership, and his mentorship still influences how I guide advisors on leadership and culture.
One of the most impactful things he said to me was about leadership: “Be aware of people who are only negative … and only positive.”
What did he mean by this? There is a tendency within many cultures to go overboard in the pursuit of positivity, which leads to suppressing employee morale and negative emotions rather than improving them and dealing with them head on.
In the modern era, this is called toxic positivity, a deeply researched topic in human capital management. In this article, we’ll look at why you need to understand it.
What Not to Do
Here is the easiest way to define toxic positivity: Ignoring negative feelings when they are expressed by employees, because those feelings make you uncomfortable.
Instead of responding to the negative feelings (usually given to you in the form of employee complaints) and hearing them out, you deflect and respond with a suggestion for how the employee can “think more positively” or “look at the bright side” and/or “be grateful.”
Instead of acknowledging the negative feelings, you give them a solution to change those feelings. And often, that solution is to be more positive.
When you do this, you are creating toxic (meaning fake) positivity in your culture. And, in doing so you teach employees that negative emotions are not allowed. When this happens, employees suppress such emotions, never resolving them and at some point — you guessed it — they come out in the form of turnover.