Delusional Positivity: Yes We Can

To ring in the New Year, I thought it fitting to bring back an article I wrote at the beginning of 2009. It's all about delusional positivity.

There is no doubt that the power of positive thinking—and acting—and talking, is having resurgence in popularity.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama invoked the call of positive-thought by suggesting to his constituents: “Yes We Can.”

Now managers and executives across corporate ranks are following suit.

In these days of belt-tightening and preparing for the worse, managers who encourage a positive outlook, and optimism throughout their organization can stimulate happier workers, increased productivity, and boundless creativity within their organizations.

It is also an excellent way to motivate the latest generation moving through the mid-level corporate ranks—the peer-oriented and instant gratification-seeking Generation Y.

A positive work environment can have a viral affect across an organization that can be started with very little igniter fuel, and can spread like a wild fire.

Here’s my management strategy to a viral campaign of positivity: identify and nurture the cheerleaders within your organization. Shower them with praise, and insider access, then watch creativity and productivity flourish. Those who join the positive bandwagon get heaped with praise and access. Those who don’t—the curmudgeons, get fired.

Fire the curmudgeons?

Yep. It is that simple. The easiest way to manage a positive attitude within an organization is to let those who foster optimism run free, and corner and eliminate those who promote negativity.

I’ve coined a phrase that I’ve seen picked up here and there. I call this management style “Delusional Positivity.”

Different from “blind optimism,” “Delusional Positivity” is a viral management strategy tested through years of working with creative individuals—from advertising professionals to software engineers, who crave praise, and freedom, and a positive work environment. Light a fire under one or two of these guys, and they’ll spread a positive outlook across your organization.

A manager who constantly, and credibly delivers a glass-is-half-full attitude does well to keep a team of workers on the right track. But a manager with “Delusional Positivity”—one who is always leading the charge up the next hill, reaps creativity and productivity that has no limit.

Q: “How are sales doing this month, boss”

A: “Steve and the rest of the sales team are pulling out all the stops! If any body can do it, they can.”

Q: “Do you think our new product is going to be well received, boss?”

A: “Who wouldn’t love what we’ve done with this thing!”

The heavy-handed manager gets ignored. The “delusionally positive” manager who reaps praise, then fosters “pushing the envelope farther” gets followed, and supported in whatever goals he sets. 

Why not give it a try—you know you can do it. Have hope. Make change.

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