With advancements within the field of Neuroplasticity, the topic of leadership becomes far more holistic than it once was.  Gone are the days where it is acceptable for the corporate monster to come bearing down on you with his fists raised angrily screaming, “just shut up and do what I say, not what I do”.  This type of power wielding anger creates tremendous stress on the brain and the body and cannot be sustained long term for either the enforcer or the enforced.

Holistic health and wellbeing is a hot topic across many corporate boards.  To sustain effective and healthy leadership, emphasis on coaching others as a key component to the role – rather than dictatorship – has proven far more effective.  Positive leadership and coaching the development of others has a much more therapeutic and compassionate based element to being an effective leader than the power stress that often comes with a leader attempting to enforce outcomes by encompassing a parent-child relationship with their staff.  It is also far more effective at influencing and motivating others than the repressive environments that were once commonplace in the workforce.  Positive Leadership encompasses four key strategies:

  • Fostering a positive climate
  • Engaging in positive communication
  • Reinforcing positive meanings
  • Developing positive relationships

Coaching the development of others is a people centric approach that involves getting to know someone on a deeper than surface level.  These things may include understanding what drives and motivates them as an individual to achieve and what they are truly passionate about. Understanding both behavioural styles and individual best learning practices is also a good starting point to build true loyalty and commitment amongst staff.   By doing this a leader can also more accurately assess how to approach individuals in a way that they will understand and relate to. This creates better communication, deeper levels of trust and commitment and more overall productivity.

Self-assessment and self-awareness also form a large part of the positive leadership approach.  As a leader you can ask yourself a number of questions to determine if you could indeed be more in-tune with your individual staff members and their needs to create a more effective and productive working space.  Below is a great self-assessment tool to determine how good you are at attaining positive leaderships in the areas of environment, communication, meaning and relationships.

Rate yourself (not the organisation as a whole) on how often you actively achieve each statements in each section using the following scale:

1 – Never

2 – Rarely

3 – Sometimes

4 – Frequently

5 – Always






Encourage public expression of compassion by sponsoring formal events to communicate emotional support  
Express gratitude to multiple employees each day  
Demonstrate forgiveness for mistakes and errors rather than fostering punishments and grudge holding  
Cultivate information sharing so that people become aware of colleagues difficulties and can express compassion and understanding  
Make gratitude visits and distribution of gratitude and appreciation gifts or notes a daily occurrence  
Provide support and development as an indicator of forgiveness in individuals who make errors  


Communicate  a ratio of approximately five positive messages for every one negative message to all staff you interact with  
Consistently distribute notes or cards to employees complimenting them on their performance  
Provide opportunities for your team to receive feedback of their strengths and to develop a self-awareness of their strengths  
Focus on behaviours and their consequences rather than the person directly when providing negative feedback  
Provide negative feedback in supportive ways using descriptive rather than evaluative statements so the relationship is strengthened as opposed to weakened or threatened  


Recognise and reward achievements consistently across all staff  
Establish goals that contribute to the overall human benefit of staff  
Focus on contribution goals rather than acquisition goals  
Tie outcomes of work to an extended time frame so that long term goals are clear  
Foster an environment of sharing between departments so that clear understanding amongst roles is established  


Ensure that staff are able to provide emotional, intellectual and physical support to others and to receive that same support in return  
Recognise and encourage positive energy within your team  
Divide energy hubs amongst networks to create a balance  
Provide more feedback on strengths than weakness to staff  
Spend more time with stronger performers than weaker performers  


Add your scores and divide by twenty-one to attain the average score overall.

Effective leaders will have an average overall score of four (4).  Identify the areas that you are doing well in and the areas that you require to work on.  Find ways to build stronger and more positive climates, communication, meaning and relationship amongst your team.  They will look to you as a leader and model the behaviour that you demonstrate.  Remember that consistency is the key.

(References used: Boyatzis, Smith & Blaize, Developing Sustainable Leadership through Coaching and Compassion 2004; Kim Cameron, Positive Leadership, 2008)

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