What is Positive Leadership?



By Linda Fisher Thornton

Positive leadership is a new term that is popping up regularly in articles. What does it mean? What kind of leadership do we describe as positive?

What is Positive Leadership?

Positive leaders stay grounded in ethical values and use a human growth mindset. They are fixed and flexible at the same time, never straying from ethics but always willing to change with the times. 

The Basis?    Positive Ethical Values

The Assumption?    People Will Do Amazing Things if We Intentionally Bring Out Their Best

The Goal?  Lead in Ways That Bring Out People’s Best Capabilities

The Culture?   Respectful, Transparent and Supportive

The Leadership?   Encouraging, Available, Contributing to People’s Success and Well-Being, Helping People Be Co-Owners of the Organization’s Success, Helping Them Learn and Grow, Helping Them Reach Their Potential.

The Interactions?   Net Positive (Many more positive than negative interactions)

Positive leaders extend a welcome to all stakeholders and help them discover their possibilities, capabilities and contributions.

What is the essence of being a positive leader? Focusing on the best in others while working on becoming the best of ourselves. 

Learn More: 

The Impact of Positive Leadership, Gallup Business Journal

Positive Organizational Behavior in the Workplace: The Impact of Hope, Optimism and Resilience, Carolyn M. Youssef, Fred Luthans, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, unl.edu

The Power of Positive Communication, The University of Arizona

Top 100 Leadership Blog





Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes case examples and questions.


LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2015 Leading in Context LLC



  1. It has been interesting to watch the emergence of “positivity” these days. My first boss often told me that I was too soft, and this after I’d just left the Marine Corps. She thought I should help my team members grow in their weaknesses, and it felt really wrong to me. If a weakness materially impacts the outcome, that’s one thing, but just to get people into cookie-cutter mode seemed unfair. Thirty years later, I have had a pretty successful career coaching my team to work as a whole, emphasizing strengths and complementing areas of challenge. That feels much better. Thanks for the post.


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