Leaders and Leadership Part 2–TBT (Throw Back Today)

In my last post, I mentioned that a critical ability for a good leader is that of information exchange. Today I look at another necessary quality: positive attitude and optimistic outlook. I talk about these together because they really go hand-in-hand. If you have ever known someone with a negative attitude, they usually also have a pessimistic outlook of the future. “Things are bad and they’re going to get worse before they get better,” seems to be their constant thought and expression. On the other hand, it is difficult to have a positive attitude if you think things are going to get worse in the future.
I’m reminded of a story that I read about a young psychology graduate who enlisted in the army. One night, he was placed on Kitchen Patrol serving apricots to the dinner line. One important note is that Army Apricots are notoriously bad and, as such, most soldiers do not take them when offered. This psychology student decided to try an experiment. For the first third of the line that night, he inquired about whether they wanted apricots by saying, “You don’t want apricots do you?” In that first third of the line 90% of the soldiers declined to take the apricots. For the second third, he changed and said, “You want apricots, don’t you?” Of that third, nearly half of them took the apricots. For the last third of the line, he changed again and said, “Do you want one dish of apricots or two?” Of that third, 40% of them took 2 dishes while 50% of them took 1 with only 10% of the soldiers declining to take the apricots. In retail, especially commission-based retail where I have also worked, this is known as suggestive, or even assumptive, selling. While working at Radio Shack, we were told that if a customer bought something that used batteries, we were to pick up the batteries on the way to the counter whether or not the customer requested them. We were to assume that the customers wanted them…a positive for us as commissioned sales staff because the more we sold, the bigger our paycheck. The manager knew from experience that if we assumed the customer wanted the batteries, they would be more likely to take them than if we asked them first.
It is this positive attitude that must be present in every good leader. You must assume that your followers want the best for their future and the company’s. You must also assume that the workers will do everything in their power to reach that goal of excellence. Will there occasionally be those who do not have the company’s best interest at heart? Of course. But those with a positive outlook and good motives will far outweigh the others.

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