To Maximize Performance, Lead From A Place Of Positivity
Government contracting is a complex and challenging industry. Not only can a single program include multiple stakeholders across public and private sectors, teaming partners and various roles, but the level of innovation and creativity needed to modernize while still taking into account legacy systems and processes can be daunting.
In any complex system, there are always going to be potential points of failure. The more innovative and complicated a system, the more risk that’s involved. Every company faces challenges, but as government contractors, these challenges are mission-critical and could impact lives, national security and the well-being of our nation. When the stakes are high, it’s normal for emotions and expectations to run high as well. After all, we all want to achieve our goals and be successful. However, we’ve all had those moments when, despite our best efforts and the efforts of our team, we wish we’d achieved a different outcome, made a different decision, analyzed the data one more time or hired additional talent. In those moments, it’s easy to let anger, anxiety, fear and stress take over.
It’s important, especially in these moments, to remember that even the best teams and companies have occasional setbacks. The key is to learn from these experiences and use them as opportunities to improve. By staying calm and level-headed and by leading with positivity, we can make sure that we’re making the most rational decisions for the future of our team or company. After all, our future success might just be found in that failure or next clear-headed decision.
Find a balance between emotions and expectations.
There is a perception that to be successful, you need to exist solely on a diet of ambition, drive and achieving results; feelings, emotions and camaraderie should have no place in the workplace. Yet when the lack of these aspects turns into an environment of negativity, no one wins. Negative thinking can breed a defeatist attitude, which in turn can lead to poor performance. When we’re focused on negativity, we’re not able to see opportunities or find creative solutions. We’re also more likely to give up — whether on ourselves, a project or our colleagues. Positive thinking can help us maintain a sense of hope and possibility. It can allow us to see challenges as opportunities, and it can give us the stamina to keep going even when things are tough.
Be aware of how you show up.
Do you approach everything as a high-stakes situation? Do you worry that if you celebrate wins too much, you’re taking your eye off the prize? Are failures the worst possible thing that can happen to you? Are you known as someone who acts impulsively and without thought? Do you often regret things you’ve said? Take a step back and assess whether who you are is aligned with the type of leader you want to be. It’s important to pause and consider how you want to show up — the choice is yours and yours alone.
Change your filter.
A negative filter can cloud your judgment and prevent you from perceiving the situation accurately, solving problems effectively, making correct decisions, diffusing stress and collaborating effectively — all of which are critical components of successfully navigating important, complex and relational situations. By default, negativity can breed pessimism, discouragement and conflict. When we lead from a place of positivity, we can create an environment that is more conducive to success and fosters creativity, collaboration and motivation.
Fail fast and never stop learning.
It is how we overcome challenges that defines us. It is only through actually doing something (creating, launching, designing, innovating, etc.) that we can gain the knowledge and experience needed to succeed now and in the future. The reality is that we can’t advance in our lives or careers if we aren’t uncomfortable, and sometimes, that level of discomfort means we stumble or fail temporarily. We need the insights from those struggles to help us make decisions — so do it fast and often! Failing fast cultivates a culture of continuous learning because in dynamic environments, there’s no room for complacency, and those who can learn from their mistakes are the ones who will ultimately thrive. Analyze, make changes and start seeing failures as opportunities for growth.
Want a proven way to create repeatable success? Celebrate wins! I’ve seen firsthand how focusing on a company’s strengths, wins and successes can make all the difference in its overall performance. When we celebrate, we’re taking the time to spotlight what went well, who contributed and what those contributions looked like. The very process of celebrating creates muscle memories of the winning lessons, processes and procedures — and not just with the team that delivered those results but with anyone who hears them. Aside from the practical value, celebrating is a cultural initiative. It builds loyalty, increases engagement and creates a fun atmosphere where employees can deepen relationships and make connections they might not otherwise have.
Change is relentless and inevitable. Challenges and obstacles are inherent in everything we do as leaders. However, when we lead from a place of positivity, we can create an environment that fuels success and a culture that can quickly adapt to changes in the regulatory landscape because our teams are entrepreneurial and agile.
Previously published on Forbes.