The Power of Positive Leadership - Critical summary review - Jon Gordon

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The Power of Positive Leadership - critical summary review

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Management & Leadership

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: The Power of Positive Leadership - How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 1119351979; 978-1119351979

Publisher: Wiley

Critical summary review

Transforming your organization –or the one that you are part of – is the leitmotif of this book.

Being at the forefront of that transition is even tougher. Nevertheless, capable leaders eager to get the most out of their business or organization are more than willing to apply the breaks when necessary and change gears. 

In “The Power of Positive Leadership,” you’ll realize that not all people are born leaders and that not all of us aspire to be the central figure in a goal-driven organization. But despite all of this, we all need the knowledge to interact with other people or to manage a small unit of employees if so required.

With that in mind, we can now understand why excelling at leadership should not be construed as a privilege, deemed only for top managers and executives. Jon Gordon doesn’t scold the hierarchical structure but criticizes those leaders who exclude the lower tiers of the organizations from giving their input on any important issue. 

Let’s take a more detailed look at what this book is all about.

The Inside Game

On one occasion, Gordon stunned his fans by saying that he was not a positive person innately. He had to work his way through life to transform his mindset and seizing  momentum. 

He also recalls that, back in the days when the psychological and self-help theories swept across the Western world, he remained skeptical of their magic. 

After a while, Gordon concluded that being a better person affects the whole world. The change that he saw in his father evinced remarkable excitement that prompted him to continue down that path and eventually become a better person himself. But, he also learned to never blindly trust. 

So, you might wonder what would be the goal of being a positive person. Or to put it differently: What incentivizes a person to espouse forward-looking and thoughtful life principles? 

Life can hardly be described as a conscious existence filled with beauty and carelessness; it’s often the other way around. The hardship in life and troublesome encounters act as a force for people to cast doubt on pretty much everything that flies in their way. 

How is this related to the buildup of a world-class organization? Well, all of life is a journey, and every journey starts from within!

Not conquering your own mind and allowing negativity to take the reins will lead to a defeat, regardless of where that defeat takes place.

Many wise people claim that fighting a destructive force should be done with the same weapons used against you. When it comes to organizations, it’s crystal clear that teams with positive synergy are much more likely to get the job done. The same principle applies to any well-organized group of people. 

What constitutes a talented group of people? The simplest answer would be "reliable individuals," which means people that add to the functionality of the group system and are ready to bear the brunt of bad decisions, easily identified because of their assertiveness in dealing with difficult situations. 

A thing more powerful than synergy and atmosphere is the culture you endorse as an organization. Of course, all modern-day companies and organizations have realized that defining a set of principles and codes of conduct to which all tiers of that organization should abide by improves productivity and reduces problems. It also reflects how we feel, how we act, how we tend to respond both as individuals and as a collective. This can later be brought down to a more subtle level, that affects the habits and movements of all members.

Case in point: Apple, founded by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. 

From the outset, these two geniuses were keenly aware of the culture they wish to promote and reward, but the implementation proved to be challenging. In reality, their sole concern was to challenge the status quo and make “Culture” the primary propeller or engine of the company. “Culture beats strategy” they both said! 

If you understand the culture, you’ll understand what the company is trying to achieve with their product or with their service. But this doesn’t apply only to companies but to organizations in general! In short, the organization must be able to answer the following questions:

  • What do we stand for?
  • What do we want to be known for?

This brings us to the well-known “Mission Statement” that is put on the pedestal by so many businesses worldwide. Remember, it doesn’t matter what you have written on the walls or the website, because people follow examples, not quotes.

Creating a better future for the people working with you or under you is, in fact, the core of positive leadership. Moreover, positive leadership encompasses innovation, management, strategic approach, relationship building, law regulation, transportation, and finances.

The belief that good leaders are careless risk-takers is a fallacy because even though sometimes they are compelled to play it risky, it doesn’t mean that they make decisions on a whim.

A proficient leader never derails from following the rules. They prefer to join forces with like-minded members, associates, or co-workers. Their main job is to dig up goal-oriented people that could be brought together under one shared vision. Later on, all members will be required to give their contribution and help the team reach its objectives.

We are led to believe that optimism surmounts all other characteristics that exemplify excellent leadership, but what to do with the pessimists? Should we lay them off, throw them off a cliff?

It’s easy to push the button and act as the hangman, but that’s not what Gordon is advocating for! First, go to the nearest mirror and look into the eyes of your reflection and ask yourself: Am I the person I deem everyone else should strive to become? 

In retrospect, you can criticize yourself for not doing something and how your life would have been had you not succumbed to obstacles. The bottom line is: our reaction is a false interpretation of how some situation is unfolding, which manifests our helplessness. The British conducted a study to learn more about qualities that predict success in life and found out that people who experienced some type of trouble in their adulthood were more likely to endure potential twists down the road. The final report considered that the way you look at these obstacles determines the likelihood of a positive outcome. 

In addition, Gordon gives a brief explanation of a phenomenon called “The Curse of Experience.”

The paradox is best described as “the longing for the good old days, which influences your present and future.” It’s a self-destructive mechanism that many leaders embrace, even though it does them tremendous harm. 

As we mentioned earlier, a huge and essential part of leadership is to understand that good culture derives from good leadership. But who will be the hero that will carry the burden and accept liability for the risk of creating this forward-looking culture by modifying the existing one? 

The truth is, any risk your organization undertakes and your involvement in it can give you a sense of how valuable of an asset you are.

You know what they say, "you are as powerful as your weakest link," but remember that authority and trust stem from good decision-making when it comes to individual value. 

The objective sense of genuine leadership is frequently put under scrutiny, a process that wields power to distract the organization and distort reality. However, bear in mind that leaders throughout history had the power to make their own objective perception in order to make the most out of the situation.  

For the sake of uniting people, they are forced to change the rules of the game. Walking on eggshells is not an attitude positive leaders embrace nor promote. The ability to consolidate all the forces put them under the same roof and leading them into “battle” is truly the backbone of successful management. 

Also, let’s list a couple of ground rules for making a positive impact on the organization:

  • Connection is the difference.
  • Team beats talent when talent isn't a team.
  • Collaborate and facilitate.
  • Dictatorship doesn’t work, and it isn’t cost-effective.

People, in general, are willing to follow a true leader, which doesn't require a follower-base. They tend to adopt the leader’s vision, and then do everything in their power to put it into practice. 

Some say that leadership starts with love, while others believe that legitimate authority and respect play a key role.  Can we all come to terms and agree that all of these facets matter equally?

Gordon explains that genuine leaders strive for excellence and are optimistic about the future. It’s not like they are trying to reach excellence, but they also don’t discard it as well. The main contrast is best illustrated in the following quote:

“Positive leaders are humble and hungry.”

They are cognizant of their lack of knowingness and are more than willing to broaden their horizons. That’s what defines both humbleness and an insatiable thirst for expanding their prowess in any matter. 

If we take a critical look at some of the world’s top brands and their organization, we’ll see a pattern. All of them have a distinct culture that guides their efforts, both individual and organizational. Success is based solely on merit, and egregious misconduct is punishable. 

If you are attempting to build a company, startup, or any kind of organization, you’ll need a winning team that can abide by similar principles. You’ll need contacts forged in the fire of struggle and common goals. Only then you can bring your organization to the next level and preserve the flames burning inside you!

According to Gordon, grit is what makes all the difference. It represents the real bulwark for success and prosperity in every regard. 

It’s also important to mention that many people are doing something they hate. Truthfully, that is the main cause for mediocrity or something that impairs one’s ability to flourish. You have to be engrossed fully in what you do to surmount all obstacles and become a winner.

For example, how can you become an NBA superstar if you don’t like basketball in the first place?

We all have heard tales about Michael Jordan and other Hall of Famers who gave up on everything to follow their dreams. It’s pretty simple – if you don’t put up the effort, energy, and give it your best shot, you are not going to make it. The same applies to leadership.

There are no ends in leadership

While talking to top-notch leaders, including the legendary George Raveling, Gordon discovered that it’s impossible to cross the finish line regarding leadership. It’s all about pushing and improving, with no end in sight. The bar can be raised innumerable times, and that’s something out of your control.  

Those who can carry the burden of continuous enhancement and struggle will be rewarded! In this book, you’ll also be introduced to the magic of the 1% rule.

The 1% principle embodies combativeness and positive aggressiveness, which, according to the author, are key elements in the transformation to a positive leader. In more detail, the rule manifests the leader’s ability to increase its efforts by 1% every single day. It also pinpoints that becoming a better person the next day is what lies at the end of the battle. 

Find your purpose

Even if you are worn out from life and want to take a breather, you mustn’t forget that without an end-goal you’ll get lost. 

Having said that, sometimes, sadness and deep dejection will get the better of you, but keep in mind that those are just temporary states. Allow anxiety and aimlessness to recede, and you’ll find yourself once again on the right track. 

Final Notes

We covered lots of ground in this text with a single intention in mind: to understand the makings of a great leader. 

Gordon lists out many methods that can be advantageous if you are in a position to make decisions on behalf of a larger organization. Positive leadership is more than just being a good mediator or decision-maker. Sometimes being tough can be a virtue too, so different rules apply in different encounters.

Let this be a lesson of positive leadership and how to excel at it. Keep learning!

12min Tip

When the pressure is on, you’d need the mental fortitude of a positive leader and the eagerness to bring the best out of everyone. So, don’t stick to what you’ve learned and prepare yourself to have your ideas challenged, given that are serious in mastering positive leadership.

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Who wrote the book?

Jon Gordon is a bestselling American author and motivational speaker with degrees from Cornell University and Emory University. He has provided advice, keynote addresses, and lectures for numerous sports organizations, academic institutions, and corporations, and his work has been featured in sev... (Read more)

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