Do you want to be a kick-ass leader? This post will explain exactly how you can have an oversized role in any organization that you belong to.

We think that influence is the key character trait that defines a great leader, so the guy or gal who influences the most people must be the one who gets the corner office and eventually becomes a CEO. Turns out that this is simply wrong. The fact is that the character trait that most frequently elevates individuals to senior management roles is positive energy! The work I’m sharing with you today is based on many years of dedicated research by Kim Cameron and others.

In his area of expertise is organizational effectiveness. Now at the end of today’s post I’ll give you a simple evaluation tool for you to measure your own leadership traits. Now what do we mean by the term positive leadership? Quite literally we’re talking about the behaviors that give other people motivation and hope. Where they share their happy emotions and contribute to good social relations. We rarely consciously work on the energy of our businesses, right? It’s not something that makes an agenda item for a typical meeting.

Yet when asked about it, almost everyone can comment on the energy in their workplace. As well, we all know and can informatively talk about the good or bad energy of our colleagues. When I was still in a big bureaucratic organization I always saw my role at least in part was to save my team members from the poison of the worst of the negative people. In the unionized environments where I work, it sometimes was exceptionally difficult to fire someone. So I made it my mission to either fix them (which was rarely successful) or build a wall around them. Sometimes literally! Sometimes by giving them narrow assignments where they had little engagement with other members of the team, but the opposite consideration was equally if not more important. Was I maximizing the good that the positive leaders were capable of?

Research shows that you can actually accurately assess the positive leaders in your organization. Really it can be as simple as asking the workforce if they can name the two to three most energizing people that they work with. The people who get named consistently and often are your positive leaders. They are not necessarily leaders in the traditional hierarchical sense– at least not yet. These energy leaders show some or all of these typical behavior patterns. They smile. They are proactive problem solvers. They volunteer to help people with no expectation of payback. They have very high standards. They instill confidence in others and they see opportunities. Contrast this with people who take away from the quality of energy in a workplace. They seek credit for themselves. They see problems and have lots of complaints. They’re somber and seldom smile. They gossip. They’re inflexible and they reject feedback. Now we all know someone who’s a de-energizer. Consider yourself; are you adding or subtracting from the constructive energy of the group’s you work with?

Dr. Cameron’s research makes it clear that organizations that consciously invest in creating positive leadership get big big results. Not goofy feel-good stuff but concrete bottom-line improvements. More innovation, higher quality, improved customer satisfaction, more productivity and profitability and no surprise much better employee retention. We all want to be around people who generate optimism and momentum. Your boss unconsciously is looking for the key people who naturally change the tone and character of the workplace. Dr. Cameron nicely sums up the science with the famous quote from John Quincy Adams. He says… “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you were a leader.”

Being a positive leader is equally applicable in workplaces as it is in families, sports teams and any group that regularly works and plays together.

It’s my life’s mission to help the world be a bit happier, so please share this post and then you’ll make the world happier too.