I have been in leadership positions for years. A recurring theme I hear from consultants and coaches is: “Attitude is everything.” Forgive my skepticism, but I’m not convinced that success is that simple. What is your take?
I share your skepticism. Attitude is relevant, but by no means is it “everything.”
I know many people who have positive attitudes but fail time and time again to achieve. And I know others who tend to be negative but still find ways to get substantial results.
Of course, a good attitude increases your odds of succeeding in your endeavors — but if it were everything, then all positive people would thrive while all negative types fail.
I see a person’s attitude as the catalyst between philosophy and action. If you have a bad philosophy, you can still have a good attitude. But, fueled by a poor philosophy, your actions will be either destructive or flaccid. For example, your results would be poor if you held the philosophy that working on Friday is necessarily unproductive because most of your colleagues mentally check out by then. In this example, you would not likely be productive but you may well be feeling “positive.” If you had a good attitude about productivity on Fridays, you might use it to organize casual dress days and golf outings.
So you can see that your attitude could be “good” but, because it is resting on a poor philosophical foundation, it does not inspire actions that produce results.
A poor philosophy tied to a good attitude and sufficient action can be destructive, as witnessed in the tragedy of abortion. There are pro-abortion advocates who have positive attitudes and even well-meaning intentions. They are even “productive” in advancing their cause. Yet they are hurting themselves and the people they claim to be helping. They have a terribly misguided philosophy, and it directs their “good attitude” toward destructive actions.
I recommend that leaders frequently review their personal philosophies about work, leading and culture building. Your philosophy about customer relations, human resources, production and innovation is far more important than your attitude.
The classic “checkup from the neck up” used to be exclusively attitudinal and not very intellectual. As a leader today, it is imperative that you include philosophy in your discussions. What are the philosophies of your team members, and how do they understand your philosophies, both personal and corporate? Once you understand the philosophical bedrock in your organization, you can make the appropriate adjustments necessary to help your team get the big picture.
It is only after you have a proper understanding of your philosophy that the motivational plaques, note pads and speakers can get traction. Once they have adopted a good philosophy, you will find that they have an increased power to find answers to questions and problems that previously eluded them.
It goes without saying that you, as a leader, must have good philosophies. I encourage you to read the saints, classic philosophers and contemporary trade books to enhance your understanding of your own philosophies. Remember that a good philosophy will inspire your team.
Also remember that to be inspired is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So begin with the end in mind, and ask God for wisdom. Ask and you will receive.
Catholic business consultant and author Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.