Leaders emotions and behavior can have a strong influence on their followers. Things don’t always pan out the way you want them to. So, the challenge is to stay positive, while remaining aware of the reality of any adverse situation that might confront you.
In a soccer match I recently watched, the referee ordered a penalty kick in favor of one of the teams (Team A), with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. Just as the Team A player was about to shoot the penalty, another Team A player, unable to contain his excitement, surged forward, resulting in encroachment.
Meanwhile, the ball had entered Team B’s goal. Team A were the better team that day, and the penalty itself was the result of great momentum they had built, in their own favor. The referee disallowed the goal.
In fact, in keeping with FIFA rules, the referee should have allowed the penalty to be taken again but did not do so.
The match went on to be a goal-less draw. In the last ten minutes of the game, the players of the rival teams concentrated less on scoring goals, and more on settling scores with one another. Foul after foul was committed, and the whole scene resembled a wrestling match, more than a soccer game.
Here was a great opportunity for Team A’s captain to display positive leadership. He could have motivated his players to carry on playing good soccer, which might well have resulted in his team’s victory. Instead, he chose to vent his anger on rival players, an example his teammates were quick to emulate.
Positive leadership is about boosting your team’s productivity. You also need to recognize the pitfalls. People are covertly attracted to negativity, and things are unlikely to improve, when leaders, themselves, are not positive. This is as true of a workplace, as it is in a soccer game.
Team A lost focus on their final objective – that of winning – by allowing themselves to be distracted by a referee’s decision. The person who could have prevented this distraction was the team’s captain.
He could have done this, after the penalty was disallowed, by having a word with the team. He could have reminded his other team members that they had dominated the game, and were likely to win if they continued to play as well as they had. A victory for Team A would have made the referee error moot.
Team A’s captain not only failed to motivate his team; he actually encouraged his teammates to fight with the rival team’s members, by doing so himself.
Positive leadership is about focusing on strengths, (better playing ability), and down-playing weaknesses or negatives, (the refereeing decision that frustrated a scoring opportunity).
You have to move on, and relegate lost opportunities to history. Leaders don’t have the luxury of seeing things from a historical perspective, which might allow them a more sympathetic view of events, as they happen.
This, then, is the challenge of positive leadership: staying focused in the face of events that conspire to distract you from your true objective.
Have a great day!