A positive attitude nurtures the leader, the business, and all subordinates under that leader. Indeed, this is one of the ways attitude informs leadership effectiveness. The example of Jack Ma, a Chinese business mogul, comes to mind when discussing attitude and leadership. Jack Ma was declared one of the wealthiest people in the world in 2017 and also listed among the world’s top 50 greatest leaders (Hill, 2016, 32).
Ma employs a motivational and transformational leadership style that allows his subordinates to grow career-wise. Hill (2016, 19) argues that a leader’s greatest achievement is maintaining highly motivating subordinates. The driven subordinates will then make sure that business objectives and targets are met, ensuring profitability. Sander (2017) argues that a positive attitude is achieved through a spiralling approach. A leader that embraces a positive attitude will pass the same to his or her subordinates. In turn, a positive work environment will be established where a majority of the employees are productive.
Additionally, a positive attitude ensures leadership effectiveness as it encourages a favourable look at failure. Sander (2017, 41) argues that many leaders fail as they condemn failure. However, failure in business should be seen as a prerequisite to success. The way a leader will handle failure will make or break his or her team. Jack Ma has been categorical in explaining how his failures helped him become the man he is today.
For example, Ma applied for 30 jobs and failed each of them. Additionally, he failed his university entrance examination four times. However, his positive attitude took the failures as lessons learned and he was able to turn them into a positive life and business lesson.
It is important to note that a whatever-it-takes attitude also contributes highly to leadership effectiveness (Maxwell, 2018, 105). Here, Steve Jobs serves as the best example. Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Apple. He has been criticized for being arrogant and mean. Despite this, he has also been described as one of the greatest leaders of this century. It can be argued that Jobs had a whatever-it-takes attitude. Several things make the said attitude great for business management.
For instance, such a leader will create a suitable environment to allow subordinates to work on their own and solve arising problems on their own (Maxwell, 2018, 106). Hill (2016, 17) agrees that a great leader will give his or her subordinates room to grow. Steve Jobs inspired trust in his subordinates. This not only helped his employees grow and in turn increase productivity and profitability but also made it easier for Jobs to focus on other business matters.
Maxwell (2018, 106) states that a leader who embraces a whatever-it-takes attitude should also cultivate it into the organizational culture and in his or her team. The stated can be achieved through proper orientation and training of the company goals and values. Indeed, analyzing the leadership style of Steve Jobs, one can confidently say that he cultivated the same leadership style in his team. Maxwell (2018, 106) argues that great leaders have to challenge people to take responsibility for their performance. It can be argued that Jobs did the same and this cultivated a can-do work environment that led to the success of Apple as a brand (Hill, 2016). The argument goes further to show the direct relationship between attitude and leadership effectiveness.
To further the discussion the example of Stephen Elop, the former Vice President of Nokia, will be used. Elop was accused of single-handedly ruining Nokia, which was one of the biggest phone manufacturers in the world. Elop can be described as a “whiner”. According to Maxwell (2018, 109), a good leader does not whine. Elop would blame other people for failures in the company. Additionally, he did not give his employees the best environment to thrive. He was dictatorial and close-minded (Martin Reeves & Haanaes, 2015, 14). Martin Reeves and Haanaes, (2015, 12) argue that Elop was more of a shower than a doer.
For example, he would show off through expensive marketing campaigns but would not offer proper leadership in the management of the company and the development of the tech products. It can be argued that Elop was a salesman, who tried to sell Nokia as a great product but did not take the time to develop it to meet the customer expectation that he had already created. Elop went into Nokia with a know-it-all attitude, and this caused the company a lot of money. The mistakes made by the then Vice President were so bad that he was deemed a king of thieves and a Microsoft Trojan horse (Martin Reeves & Haanaes, 2015, 21). Critics believed that he consciously ruined Nokia to promote Microsoft. Elop, later on, sold Nokia to Microsoft (Martin Reeves & Haanaes, 2015, 17).
Another example of bad leadership that proves that attitude goes a long way in ensuring effectiveness in leadership is that of Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo. Marissa had a bossy attitude and believed that only those in senior managerial positions could be trusted. Wang (2016, 11) reveals that the former CEO did not trust her subordinates, and thus, could not provide a working environment that thrived.
According to Maxwell (2018, 122), all great leaders have to create a believer in themselves. The premise means that the leader should not only trust his or her abilities to succeed but also the ability of his or her subordinates to succeed. Marissa made the situation at Yahoo worse by, first, hiring expensive senior managers who she later let go of and spent billions in reparation (Wang, 2016, 11). Additionally, she did not learn from her mistakes and went on to buy expensive businesses that turned out to be failures. Maxwell (2018, 123) explains that learning is vital for any leadership as it helps cultivate the right attitude. The inability of the former Yahoo CEO to learn led to the downfall of Yahoo as one of the top search engines in the world.
Maxwell (2018, 123) supports the idea that a whatever-it-takes attitude is the best for any leader. However, it should be noted that whatever it takes and a positive attitude should be developed alongside a positive attitude for both to work efficiently. It is crucial to point out that there are world leaders that have embraced the whatever-it-takes attitude and have failed horribly due to their negative attitude. Indeed, one can argue that the stated attitude, if not monitored and used well, can lead to greed and over-indulgence. The two positive personas stated, Jack Ma and Steve Jobs, are not examples of perfect leaders. However, they are examples of leaders who had both positive and whatever-it-takes attitudes in their businesses.
Hill, A. (2016). Leadership in the headlines: Insider insights into how leaders lead. New York, NY: FT Publishing.
Martin Reeves, M., & Haanaes, K. (2015). Your strategy needs a strategy: How to choose and execute the right approach. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review.
Maxwell, C. J. (2018). Developing the leader in you 2.0. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishing.
Sander, P. (2017). Negotiating 101: From planning your strategy to finding a common ground, an essential guide to the art of negotiation. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
Wang, V. C. X. (2016). Encyclopedia of strategic leadership and management. Jacksonville. FL: IGI Global.