Managers wanting to build high performing and functional workplaces know that you can only bring out people's positive behaviour when you display this behaviour yourself. They also know that a couple of days of negative behaviour or poor attitude on their part can have negative behaviours and attitudes rippling across their entire department or team. In the end it almost seems as if the first rule of management becomes whatever happens, always display positive behaviour.
There is, however, much more to displaying positive behaviours than appears at first glance and from my perspective this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of being an effective and influential manager. I believe that the positive behaviour managers need to display is in fact mature behaviour. And mature behaviour is much more than just being positive, or taking a positive slant on the way we respond to what is happening, or offering room for others to respond in a positive manner.
I have seen, over and over again, managers interpreting the need to display positive behaviour as the need to be “positive”. Unfortunately, the more skilfully and earnestly the manager is able to apply “being positive” the more it seems to lead to a range of less than optimal outcomes. These outcomes often seem to result in random and unanticipated responses such as: people hiding things from them because they don’t want to be seen as “negative nellies”; and not being able to get beyond superficial conversations and responses because everyone is “being positive” and so the real issues are never articulated. Or even worse, the manager trying so hard to display positive behaviour is seen as having no idea, or of not living in the real world and so people work around them and avoid dealing with them. All of this less than optimal behaviour leads to an environment that is characterised by low levels of trust, avoidance and suspicion that are a long way from the “positive behaviours” being aimed for.
I believe, and research tells us, that managers need the ability to have real conversations that build and strengthen relationships, and reset relationships that have gone off track. This ability requires managers to display positive and mature behaviours and to develop the skill and internal awareness needed to reset, refocus and redirect conversations towards constructive relationships, better business results and greater trust. This ability to have these powerful conversations is called conversational intelligence and there is a growing body of research around how to work with and apply these powerful concepts.
Whilst it takes time and commitment to develop new behaviours and skills the good news is substantial improvements can be made remarkably quickly once the core concepts and fundamentals of trust and its impact on human behaviour are understood.
Article by Maureen Owen – Coach, Facilitator, Change Agent, Organisational Development Consultant
I work with individuals and teams to reclaim their responses, create momentum and get extraordinary result.
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