Positive Leadership Packs a Powerful Punch. Here’s How to Lead With Positivity, According to Steven Kawasumi

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Traditional paradigms have long held sway in the business world. These conventional approaches often prioritize authority, a well-defined hierarchy, and a results-driven culture. 

While these attributes surely have their place in business, the world is becoming increasingly more complex and a new model of leadership has emerged — one that places positivity over authority and advocacy over implacability. Where many leaders still adhere to the “tried and true,” this fresh perspective on leadership proves to not just be innovative but also incredibly powerful. It challenges the status quo and, in doing so, unlocks the true potential of individuals and organizations alike. 

One such executive holds his technical background in high regard but has elevated numerous organizations he’s worked for through his steadfast belief in the impact of a strength-based, positive management style. Steven Kawasumi, a Product Management Leader at Intuit, oversees team members under positive leadership and has not only enhanced their influence on the organization but has supported them in the acceleration of their career trajectories — a leader’s dream.

Below, Steven Kawasumi shares his insights into the components and benefits of positive leadership and offers advice for how other leaders can lead with positivity.

The Components of Positive Leadership

Positive leadership is not merely an abstract concept but a concrete set of principles and behaviors that can be cultivated and practiced. At its core, positive leaders exemplify three key components:

  • Modeling Positive Attitudes: Positive leaders set the tone by embodying a consistently optimistic outlook. They approach challenges as opportunities, creating an atmosphere where growth and development can thrive. Their positive attitude is infectious, creating a ripple effect that permeates the entire team but can also be felt across the entire organization.
  • Employing Positive Language: The choice of words a leader uses every day can have a significant influence on the morale and motivation of their team members. Positive leaders understand the power of communication and wield it with precision. They communicate with clarity and empathy, deliberately selecting words that uplift, inspire, and motivate rather than ranking employees under the guise of inspiring competition. Through their linguistic finesse, they cultivate an environment that nurtures open dialogue, encourages creativity, and empowers team members to express themselves freely.
  • Having Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the bedrock of positive leadership. Emotionally intelligent leaders possess a profound self-awareness, enabling them to understand and manage their own emotions effectively. This empowers them to regulate their reactions and responses. They are also intrinsically motivated, propelled by a genuine passion for their work and a fervent desire to witness their team’s triumphs. In tandem with this, they exhibit empathy, which allows them to forge strong, genuine relationships that inspire unwavering trust and authenticity.

Positive leaders are not mere figureheads but the architects of a culture that thrives on growth, collaboration, and resilience. 

The Benefits of Positive Leadership

Positive leadership is not just an idealistic concept; it is a tangible force that brings about numerous advantages for both individuals and organizations.

At its core, positive leadership fosters a work environment where employee morale soars to new heights. Team members feel valued, appreciated, and genuinely supported. Such high morale isn’t just a feel-good factor; it leads to a happier and more productive workforce. In turn, this ignites the flames of employee engagement. Rather than merely clocking in and out of work, employees want to bring their best selves to the table. When leaders emphasize positivity, it creates a sense of belonging and purpose, inspiring employees to invest their time and effort wholeheartedly.

More effective problem-solving also thrives under the banner of positive leadership. Leaders who imbibe positivity encourage creative thinking and view challenges as stepping stones to growth. They nurture an environment where setbacks are seen as valuable learning experiences, sparking innovation and adaptability among their teams. When employees see other peers as a source of collaboration rather than competition, it cultivates a culture of intentional relationship-building. 

These advantages are not just advantageous in theory — they translate into tangible improvements in organizational success. Positive leadership is, without a doubt, a powerful catalyst for nurturing a flourishing, forward-thinking workplace culture.

Leading With Positivity

All this talk about positive leadership is great and all, but means nothing if leaders aren’t sure how to incorporate a more positive management style into the workplace. Steven Kawasumi provides some tips:

  • Transform the Company from the Top-Down: Positive leaders recognize that their attitude sets the tone for the entire organization, so it’s crucial to lead by example. When leaders model positive behaviors, they inspire their teams to follow suit.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Positive leaders understand the profound power of acknowledging small victories. They know that even seemingly insignificant accomplishments are essential building blocks toward significant achievements. Shining a spotlight on these milestones fuels internal motivation and propels employees to achieve excellence. 
  • Empower Autonomy and Flexibility: Empowerment is a hallmark of positive leadership. These leaders give their employees the autonomy and flexibility to excel. They trust their teams to take ownership of their work and make decisions that align with the company’s vision. This empowerment empowers employees to become high achievers, driving both personal and organizational growth.
  • Support in Every Challenge: Positive leaders aren’t mere spectators in their team’s journey; they are their staunchest allies. In times of challenge or uncertainty, they step forward as mentors and advocates, providing unwavering support and guidance. Their presence during these crucial moments galvanizes the team, fostering resilience and the belief that they can overcome any obstacle.
  • Treat Every Employee with Respect and Integrity: Regardless of rank or role, every employee is treated with respect and integrity. Positive leaders understand that a thriving culture is built on the foundation of fairness and respect, where every voice matters.

As leaders, it is our choice: to lead with positivity and reap the rewards or to adhere to outdated paradigms that hinder both personal and organizational growth. But the choice seems pretty clear to Steven Kawasumi, who believes positive leadership is the catalyst for sustained transformation.


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