I have recently become enthralled with the ideas of positive and negative leadership. Jon Gordon is one of my favorite speakers/authors/bloggers and his platform of positive leadership has greatly influenced, and even changed, my perspective on leading. I find him very motivational. One of my college professors, Bob Knight – you may have heard of him – recently published a book titled The Power of Negative Thinking. If you haven’t read it, it’s probably not what you perceive it to be. Yes, Coach Knight has come across to some as an adversarial leader; however, his idea of negative thinking in his book is related much more to preparation that a consequential-form of leadership. It was Coach Knight’s “leave-no-stone-unturned” preparation that made him one of the most successful college basketball coaches to pace the sidelines.


I have come to the conclusion that in order to be our best we must use a combination of both. As I have read the works of Jon Gordon, Coach Knight, and others on these areas of thinking, I have developed some definitions of both positive and negative thinking and some thoughts about each. One would think positive and negative thinking would be contradictory. Ironically, in trying to better grasp these concepts from the resources I don’t find a whole lot of relationship between them.

Positive Thinking: Creating a culture of optimistic and confident thoughts and feelings without overestimating your abilities

Negative Thinking: Eliminating the actions and mistakes that lead to failure

• Positive results don’t happen solely because of optimistic thinking. – They occur as a result of preparation, hard work, and learning through challenges. Conversely, one is likely to fail if they are not optimistic.

• People need positive reinforcement now more than ever. – Without scientific evidence, I would guess that the percentage of people who work most effectively in negative environments is at an all-time low (not that it has ever been a large number). When people are working to improve, a focus less on results and more on process, then they should receive positive reinforcement from their leaders.

• We must be aware of our weaknesses and develop them. – Many leadership experts will tell you to develop your strengths. That is well and good if those strengths are skills that you use frequently. If you need to use skills that are weaknesses, you better work on those, too. Self-analysis of our negative qualities, creating awareness of them, is essential to improving oneself.

• The best leaders are very demanding. – Is demanding, or continually asking someone to work beyond what they already have, a negative quality of a leader? Not necessarily. If expectations are realistic and the delivery of the demand has some trust-value involved, demanding is a positive thing.

• A combination of a positive, optimistic outlook, combined with thorough preparation, provides an individual or team the best chance to succeed.

Resources Mentioned in This Blog
Book: The Power of Negative Thinking http://www.amazon.com/Power-Negative-Thinking-Unconventional-Achieving/dp/054402771X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379968347&sr=1-1&keywords=the+power+of+negative+thinking

Blog: Jon Gordon Blog http://www.jongordon.com/blog/

Question: What sources have you studied about the concepts of “positive” and “negative” thinking?


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