Management Matters with Mike Myatt: Do You Have A Bad Attitude?
- Aug 22, 2008
Show me a CEO with a bad attitude and I’ll show you a poor leader. While this sounds simple enough at face value, I have consistently found that one of the most often overlooked leadership attributes is that of a positive attitude. As a CEO, how can you expect to inspire, motivate, engender confidence, and to lead with a lousy attitude? The simple answer is that you can’t. It just won’t work. CEOs with bad attitudes will not only fail to engage their workforce, but they will quickly find themselves shown the door as their attitude’s impact on performance becomes visible to the board. In today’s column I’ll examine the importance of CEOs having a positive attitude. Clearly the topic of “attitude” has been addressed ad-nauseum in many a self-help piece, or most recently in “The Secret” (one of the most dangerous books and trends ever, but that’s another topic altogether), but this doesn’t mean that it is not worthy of topical consideration for chief executives. Leaders are not perfect, and as CEO you’re going to have your fair share of bad days. The difference between you the CEO, and everyone else on the planet, is that you don’t have the luxury of displaying a bad attitude. Why then do so many CEOs appear to have a bad attitude? While there are certainly a variety of reasons (ego, arrogance, pride, etc.) for why a CEO can display a bad attitude, I believe that in many instances it is because they have fallen prey to a bad habit…yes, attitudes are formed, and a bad attitude is nothing more than an ingrained habit. The good news is that habits can be broken and/or reformed. So, this begs the question how does a CEO know when they have a bad attitude? If you answer yes to any one of the following five questions, then you are in need of an attitude adjustment: 1. Are your likeability and respect ratings low? While being a great CEO is not a popularity contest, the fact is that most great CEOs are both well liked and respected. They have the full faith and trust of their stakeholders, and possess strong positive relationships across constituencies. What do you reflect and what do people see in you? If you are not well liked and respected then you will have consistent, self-imposed obstacles placed in your path that inhibit your ability to be an effective leader. 2. Do you tend to have a pessimistic outlook on things? If you aren’t excited about the start of each day, display a “same crap…different day” attitude, or have a “glass is half-empty” perspective on things, then you likely have a bad attitude. 3. Do people seek your input, advice, and counsel? If people see you coming and quickly run the other way, you have an attitude problem. Great CEOs are magnets that attract the attention of others. If people shy away from you versus clamor for your attention you likely have an attitude problem. 4. Are you often frustrated wondering why others don’t see things your way? Everyone can have a bad day, and while it’s okay to visit pity-city every once in a while, it is not a healthy place to live. If the majority of your conversations and interactions are negative or confrontational you likely have an attitude problem. 5. Do you have difficulty attracting and retaining tier-one executive talent? The simple truth is that people strongly desire to work with and for great leaders. Great CEOs are talent magnets…people want to be led by those who have much to offer. If you struggle with recruiting, team building, and leadership development you likely have a bad attitude. If you still don’t know whether or not your attitude is affecting your performance I would strongly suggest participation in a 360 review process where your strengths and weakness are objectively assessed by those whom you interface with on a frequent basis. Lastly, following are few statistics that might convince you to change your outlook on life if you tend to be a pessimist: 1. People with bad attitudes have an 800 percent higher incident rate of being diagnosed with clinical depression. 2. People who possess a negative outlook on life are four times more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack, or be diagnosed with cancer. 3. People who have bad attitudes have more career turnover. 4. People with bad attitudes have a 50 percent higher divorce rate. 5. People with bad attitudes are ten times more likely to have poor relationships with their children. If your attitude is impeding your relationships, your talent, or your health it might be time to consider making some changes.