Navigator Insights

The secret sauce is a positive outlook

I’ve always been an optimist. During challenging times over my professional career, I’ve always looked over the horizon. Confidence in my skills was an ingredient or maybe it was my adaptability knowing I needed to ‘adapt or die’.  Looking back it was all that and more.  However, the secret sauce was my positive outlook.

Those who know me or have worked with me previously know that under challenging situations, I tend to lower anxiety levels through ensuring the team was still in a positive frame of mind.  My current employer has experienced significant changes with minimal certainty and knowing every day is hard fought.  But as a leader of the organisation, it was my role to lead positively, ensuring cohesiveness particularly when internally things are falling apart, and instilling confidence in the staff that ‘this guy has done this before!’.

Research has consistently shown that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement, teamwork —improves.  Positivity also fosters openness with staff and stakeholders.

Positive teamwork is an important element for me as a leader.  Productivity is fostered only through the well-being of well functioning team.  Some of my leadership colleagues give me grief for not dealing with the hard teams (‘that’s the only way you learn as a leader’, they say).  But my aim isn’t about having a happy team; it’s about having a high producing team.

Have there been moments where some of my staff have tried to take advantage of my positive nature?  Yes, definitely. That is hard as a leader, as it’s important that a staff member is given enough rope to learn and develop as a person – sometimes as they say they hang themselves on that rope.

Often those moments are not good ones, particularly for the staff member given New Zealand is a small country and one’s reputation is a passport to future employment opportunities.  I often later find out that that staff member had always had a chip on their shoulder or had difficult personal barriers to get over.  I have and will get over those anomalies very quickly.

As much as negativity had become habitual for them; a positive outlook is one habit I continue to cherish in my life.

Our Navigator Partner Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive with governance covering human rights, media and education. 

Image courtesy of kraifreedom /