Positive Leadership Toward Reinventing Organizations

by  Marcella Bremer  |  Leadership Development
Positive Leadership Toward Reinventing Organizations

Positive Leadership, based on positive psychology, makes a tremendous difference in any workplace no matter how hierarchical its structure may be, or how plain the tasks at hand.

Recently, some great books have been published about new organizations for the 21-st century, such as Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux and My Steam Engine is Broken by Mark Powell & Jonathan Gifford.

I’ll discuss them in a later blog post, but the point is reinventing organizations takes time and some people may be discouraged when they think of applying this to their workplace. Great idea – but it won’t work here. That’s where positive leadership comes in.

Just because you can’t reinvent your organization overnight to turn into a self-organizing, vibrant, fulfilling and energizing workplace doesn’t mean you are powerless! You can always apply positive leadership.

What Is Positive Leadership?

Here’s something you can do right away to develop your workplace: apply positive leadership and kindness, whatever your role is. The simplicity of the positive leadership ideas always strikes me, yet the research evidence is so compelling. This really makes a difference.

Positive leadership departs from an abundance mindset. It has faith that there will be enough for everyone. It aims to enlarge the pie instead of dividing its parts where you will create winners and losers. Co-creating a bigger pie will make everyone a winner.

Instead of aiming for the default baseline – there are no problems – positive leadership is looking to realize positive deviance. We are performing beyond expectations and we are living up to our greatest potential as an organization. We are the best version of ourselves that we can be.

It builds on what is already working well. It appreciates people for their unique contributions. It means trusting people so that they will surprise you in a positive way with their projects. It means acknowledging small but good things and actions.


What if you role model kindness? You know that everyone tries their best, and everyone can make a mistake every now and then. You show compassion. You don’t take things too personally. You don’t make things weigh more than they do. You see disappointments as information. You’re open to welcome all kinds of information, but you handle anything with a positive-leadership mindset. That means it’s safe to share anything.

You are there for your coworkers and teams. You give genuine attention. You compliment people and you mean it. It costs nothing. All it takes is you – the best version of you. You can start today – no matter how busy you are or how challenging it may be to see something good in your workplace.

What if Kindness Is Not Easy?

Several people objected to this idea. It is not easy to be kind in our organization. That’s right. It’s not always easy in an environment that does not do kindness. Yet, we can uplift the others and choose positive leadership and kindness anyway. But it takes courage. You may be labeled as weak, idealistic or you may be mocked. How kindness is perceived, depends on the culture and the leadership team. But then again, it starts with one person displaying “normal” human kindness.

If you need more inspiration, you can download the Positive Leadership and Change Collection #1. It contains 10 articles, one of them an interview with professor Kim Cameron about Positive Leadership, who said:

“It is the duty of a leader to help create an organization where it is easy to be kind and supportive.”

It’s normally the price of a coffee, but it will be free until May 23rd. Grab your copy today and spread more positive leadership: Download collection #1.

The Kindle collections on Positive Leadership, Culture and Change are also readable for non-Kindle-owners. Simply download a free Kindle reading app for any device.

All it takes to develop the workplace and the world is you.

Have you been part of an organization that reinvented itself? Tell us about it in the comments!

About The Author

Articles By marcella-bremer
I am an author, culture & change consultant and “inspirator”. I’m on a mission to help more people make a difference at work and transform those Dilbert-like workplaces into 21st-century spaces based on positive leadership, culture, and change. That’s why I co-founded Leadership & Change Magazine and OCAI Online and why I write books and organize open workshops.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Kristine Phillips  |  22 May 2015  |  Reply

I am a department director in a health care organization. When I was initially hired 9 years ago, the leadership on the unit had reduced all self esteem and trust to the point that several staff were recording conversations with leadership so they had “evidence” or taking notes so they could prove what was actually said or done. Needless to say it was a difficult situation to walk into. But, with patience and by focusing on the positives rather than all the changes that need to take place, we were able to develop trust and create a very different culture. September I will have been here 10 years. I’m happy to say, it only took about a year to lay down the foundation that has led to a department with very low turnover and very positive patient and partner satisfaction. Kindness and a positive approach are key to creating a positive culture. Regardless of an organization’s culture or what’s going on in other departments, you can change the culture in your work area.

Page Cole  |  25 May 2015  |  Reply

“You are there for your coworkers and teams. You give genuine attention. You compliment people and you mean it. It costs nothing. All it takes is you – the best version of you.”

Great perspective! I’m convinced one of the reasons so few people actually lead this way is they don’t believe in or see their own version of the “best version of you” in themselves. Leaders ought to be about helping others discover and believe in that “best version”.

Thanks for the encouragement today Marcella! Enjoy your weekend!

John Smith  |  27 May 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Marcella:)

This is a very interesting post about a concept that seems to integreate appreciative inquiry, positive leadership, and a realistic, but optimistic view of people and the workplace.

I enjoyed your explanation of how positive leadership displays and particularly like the “abundance” mindset idea, althought I am not taken with the word. I have seen some problems occur when the idea of “abundance” is taken to represent a “I should have all the money I want” approach to life. I believe that abundance is only truly reached when we share with others … I have enought to give some to you.

Your point about the need for patience is key. To remain focused on the larger goals and not let the daily hassles wear one down seems to be an essential part of effective leadership. One inspires by prevailing, so to speak, and models acceptance of the “now”, while keeping the vision of “Soon” alive.

Sidebar: You are the second person to mention Frederic Laloux to me in the last week and I have not been aware of him before this. Thanks for adding another book to my already very long reading list:).


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