The Power of Positive Leadership: 3 Steps to Inspiring a Virtuous Workplace

the-power-of-positive- leadership

“I know many of you are trying to get to San Diego in time to make meetings, to see family, or to get back home. I am so sorry we can’t get you there on time. We’ll do everything we can to get you there as safely and as quickly as possible. We just can’t do that with this aircraft. I sincerely apologize.”

My husband and I were traveling to San Diego for a business trip when our connection in Dallas was delayed by a maintenance issue with the aircraft. We sat on the runway for about an hour, pulled back to the gate, unloaded, and had to change gates and planes. In all, about a three-hour delay.

How many times have you had to sit on a plane with no information, waiting for someone to tell you what was going on and how long it would take? I’ve been there, too. Instead, our pilot felt our pain, had compassion for the aggravation, disappointment, and exhaustion the unexpected disruption had caused, and cared enough to both communicate and apologize.

An act of positive leadership that earned more “thank you’s” than angry outbursts.

In my recent podcast episode of GGG Unleashed: Better Leaders, Better Workplaces featuring Dr. Ryan Quinn, Associate Professor and Academic Director for the Project on Positive Leadership at the University of Louisville College of Business, we discussed how traditional approaches to leadership continue to exacerbate the issues with low employee engagement, high turnover, and burnout. Growing the practice of Positive Leadership at all levels of your organization is a key component to building a better workplace and a better customer experience.

What is Positive Leadership?

Positive Leadership is defined as exhibiting exceptional virtues that inspire others to follow. Simply put, positive leadership is essential in today’s complex and divided world. When practiced with excellence, virtues such as humility, empathy, love, care, compassion, wisdom, patience, courage, playfulness, and integrity, help you attract and retain your best talent. The Power of Positive Leadership Employees feel valued, and inspired.

Many of these virtues we recognize as ‘soft skills’, but there’s nothing soft about treating a person with dignity and respect.

Followership is earned. And, as Dr. Quinn explains, positive leadership is something we accomplish again and again. The Power of Positive Leadership you can practice positive leadership.

The Impact of Positive Leadership in Workplaces

Comments from employees from the Best Places to Work are great examples of The Power of Positive Leadership in your work environment. Here are some comments from Glassdoor’s top-rated workplaces:


“The culture of the company is inclusive and encouraging, and the people I work with are intelligent, patient, talented, and supportive.”

#6 Mathworks

“Leadership is transparent. This is the first time in my career I’ve looked forward to going to work every day.”

#11 HubSpot

“Empathy is a core HubSpot value and the leadership team truly walks the walk.”

 #33 Houston Methodist

“Such a positive, innovative, respectful work environment. Employees are appreciated and are compensated for excellent work.”

#49 Cisco Systems

“I love working for a company that is genuine and truly cares about the well-being of their workforce.”

#96 Toast Inc.

“A team that cares about you and your future. A culture of helping each other, instead of outdoing each other.”

#99 Schneider Electric

“Wonderful training with mentors, willing to offer their time for your development. Inclusion is not just a word.”

Inspiring a Culture of Positive Leadership

What do your employees say about your workplace? Rather than guess, find out. And use the insights to inspire a culture of positive leadership in your organization. Here’s how:

Step 1. Baseline the experience:

What are your employees saying? What’s it like to work here? You may have an existing engagement survey or need to implement one. Is it giving you the insights you need? Some partners can help you implement an objective and meaningful feedback tool that you can implement annually.

Step 2. Create ongoing listening opportunities:

What ongoing opportunities are you offering where employees can be heard? Invite one-on-one conversations or small group CEO roundtables where employees can share their overall experiences at work. Use active and reflective listening to create a safe space for sharing. Don’t defend or explain. Receive the gifts. Patti Cuthill, Vice President of People & Culture with Verve Cloud and President of San Diego SHRM says, “one of the first modules in our leadership development program is on how to listen.”

Step 3. Integrate the insights into culture & leader development:

What are you doing with the feedback? Are you listening? Don’t ask for feedback if you’re not going to use it. That will create employee disengagement. Consider how the data is being analyzed for insights, communicated back within the organization, and acted on with positive intention. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What virtues and experiences define our organization’s culture? What virtues are showing up in behaviors? Are our values represented? Where could the experience improve?
  • Is our leadership development focused on this level of self-awareness and growth, or only focused on tactical skills like steps to delegate or time management?

You Can’t Afford to Wait

In today’s evolving and transitory environment, employers can’t afford to continue with a ‘business as usual’ attitude. To foster a positive workplace culture, virtues must be actively promoted and cultivated across all levels of the organization

To get more insights into this topic, listen to Part 1 of my discussion with Dr. Quinn on the Better Leaders, Better Workplaces podcast.


She’s a woman on a mission, prepped and ready to help you create resilient leaders and a workplace that is poised to succeed. Having weathered her fair share of corporate and career crises of all sizes, Vivian Blade MBA, MBB, PMP, is a global leadership expert and thought leader who equips leaders with the resilience that inspires teams to recover quickly in the face of ongoing disruption and thrive in spite of insurmountable odds.

Vivian empowers leaders and organizations as a frequent keynote speaker for association conferences and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive coaching and consulting for corporations.

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2023 Vivian Blade