“Research shows that the best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgement. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution – based thoughts” Chris Voss.
This became my coaching philosophy as it makes me constantly reflect on situations in many work environments I experienced in my career when I observed how the negativity damaged the opportunity, the talent, the chance of a positive outcome and people’s lives in general.
Negativity is like a skunk. One of the top hospitality leaders in America, Danny Meyer, used this language to describe how negativity can spread and how ‘deadly’ it can become for the team and organization. “Skunking” describes people behaving badly out of fear. “Skunks spray when they are scared, defensive, territorial, angry, trapped, or frustrated,” he wrote.
People are no different. In work environments negativity could be avoided if the leadership treated people as adults with fairness and consistency, if leaders developed and publicized workplace policies and procedures that organize work effectively and if the employees were treated as if they were trustworthy and worthy of the respect—because they are.
It is believed that the leaders of the future must have values and vision and to be authentic and agile. They should be aware and responsible, full of self-belief, and healthy measure of emotional intelligence. They must be collaborative and internally aligned with all employees.
But who takes the time to do one to one sit downs with these potential leaders when they are in a need of advice or when they feel demotivated? Who helps them to get clarity and to gain confidence? Sadly, many leaders don’t experience attention to their growth and development these days and choose to leave companies simply due to lack of support and feeling stuck among the negative complainers.
Many companies out there are the perfect example of such environment full of experienced leaders that simply need to be led a certain way to unlock their potential and find a purpose behind their daily efforts beyond occasional recognition. Improvements in communication, internal collaboration where team members acknowledge each other’s efforts and job scopes and work together to make sure each person delivers their task. Empowering decision making goes hand in hand with openness and trust – in people, in processes, in leadership, in expertise on board- has never been bigger than today.
Many potential leaders are not convinced that they are an integral part of an organization. Their confidence is low as their bosses above make themselves unapproachable, ignore their emails or cancel meetings that have been scheduled to discuss the pressing issues or their next steps towards success. Many do receive deconstructive criticism on their performance over the email too often and suffer from work overload that has been poorly delegated or explained.
How does one remain positive and inspired to deliver above and beyond in such work environment? How does one bring an actual value to the company and stay productive? What if the HR managers are so overwhelmed that the sit downs become pointless and leaders don’t even consider being honest with them due to lack of time? Or even worse, what if HR managers agree with their frustration but there is nothing they can do?
Coaches can help to eliminate the feeling of being stuck in a rut and become that objective sounding board for individuals. They can bring perspective into the conversation and explore the reality of each situation and possibilities. As a result leaders can see the light at the end of the tunnel and give them a boost for days or weeks to come.
Refusing to be the victims of the fate and become the creators of our own destiny is always one decision away for everyone.
Marianna Alfa is a Corporate & Executive Coach.
She has spent 18 years in the hospitality business in a few roles to include General Manager, Director of Operations and Vice President and has managed daily operations in dozens of restaurants, juggling many concepts and establishing global partnerships with supply chains.
Working as a coach she offers a guided journey during which leaders evolve and flourish, build their confidence and self-esteem, and unlock their own potential to the fullest.