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Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do



Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do

Kathryn D. Cramer

ISBN: 978-1-118-83011-6 February 2014 Jossey-Bass 288 Pages

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How to implement effecitve, magnetic leadership by applying asset-based thinking and shifting your mindset from the negative to the positive

Lead Positive takes the fundamentals of Asset-Based Thinking (ABT) and turns them into a playbook for successful leadership. ABT is a simple mindset management process that shows people how to make small shifts in perception and thinking to achieve great results. Cramer shows leaders how to apply ABT to shift their attention away from what is negative and learn to intentionally shine the spotlight on the positive, beneficial facts of a situation. As they make this mental shift from negative to positive aspects, they improve their optimism, empathy, and confidence. When their mindset zooms in on what is strong, valuable, and possible, what they say and do is far more likely to inspire others to action. In short, ABT helps leaders shift internally so they can excel externally. Lead Positive weaves neuroscience and positive psychology to create effective leadership strategies.

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Lead Positive 1
Reframe problems as possibilities and appeal to a higher sense of purpose

PART 1 - What Highly Effective Leaders See
Zero in on what is working, strong, and possible

Chapter 1: What You See Is What You Get 11
Widen your perspective beyond the negative

Chapter 2: Focus on the Past 35
Honor the past for what it can teach you

Chapter 3: Focus on the Present 53
See and seize the emerging opportunities in any situation

Chapter 4: Focus on the Future 64
Envision a future worth diving into

PART 2 - What Highly Effective Leaders Say
Speak to the mind, heart, and spirit

Chapter 5: From See to Say 85
Make what you see match what you want to say

Chapter 6: Say It with Substance 93
Leave no doubt about the credibility of your message

Chapter 7: Say It with Sizzle 108
Tell rich stories that invite your audience to feel

Chapter 8: Say It with Soul 135
Mean what you say (and say something meaningful)

PART 3 - What Highly Effective Leaders Do
Start a positive ripple effect

Chapter 9: From Say to Do: It’s a Very Short Trip 163
Set the example for what you want others to see, say, and do

Chapter 10: Reactive or Responsive: It’s Up to You 169
Make your adrenaline work for you

Chapter 11: Start Being Before You Start Doing 182
Strengthen the link between who you are and what you do

Chapter 12: Driving Positive Change 200
Practice the seven key behaviors for transformational change

Chapter 13: The Asset-Based Leadership Advantage 217
Apply the See-Say-Do framework to every stage of the change process

Conclusion: Your Lead Positive Hero’s Journey 238
Use what you already know how to do—in the moment and over time

Notes 240

About the Author 247

Index 249

Lead Positive gives leaders a playbook for how to be courageous, resilient, and optimistic as they spearhead positive change.”
—John C. Maxwell, bestselling author and speaker

 “In Lead Positive, Cramer has captured the secret to great leadership: the actions and words, based on positive thinking and integrity, that bring out the best in everyone around us. Instead of process and strategies, she shines the spotlight on what we can do and say to engage and create a truly cohesive workforce that is up to any challenge. Lead Positive is a valuable, original contribution to leadership thinking and learning with case studies that are original, on-point, and enlightening. Brilliant!”
—Marshall Goldsmith,  author, New York Times bestsellers MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Lead Positive takes you on a transformative journey from problem to possibility and from fear to success.  Read this book if you want to transform your thinking, transform your leadership, and transform your life!”
—Kevin Cashman, senior partner, CEO & Executive Development, Korn/Ferry International, and author, Leadership from the Inside Out and The Pause Principle

 “Lead Positive is an authentic conversation about the thoughts and actions that create collaborative leadership. It embodies leadership that cultivates and encourages others. This is a must-read for those who believe that acknowledgment, appreciation, and alignment can create meaningful action and results.”
—Jim Canfield, chief executive officer, Renaissance Executive Forums

“Don't be fooled by the title—Cramer's book is not some kumbaya leadership treatise. Lead Positive is a brilliant manifesto for how readers can reframe their thinking, messaging, and behavior  to be more effective at motivating and inspiring the people they lead.”
—Michael Feiner, former Chief People Officer of PepsiCo; professor, Columbia University School of Business; and author, The Feiner Points of Leadership

“These days, it's all too easy for leaders to hunker down into defensiveness, negativity and fear. Cramer offers a simple, powerful approach to shifting your thinking and your actions as a leader toward what's working and what's possible, making yourself the kind of leader people will be inspired to follow through thick and thin.”
—Erika Andersen, founder and partner, Proteus, and author, Leading So People Will Follow and Being Strategic

“I stood up to take on the Jeopardy Challenge and build Watson when the vast majority of technical leaders at IBM stated it was ‘impossible,’ ‘fantasy,’ and that ‘Ferrucci was a dreamer’— and when the executives backing the project insisted that Watson had to win to save the IBM brand. I look back at what made me successful in the face of such extreme doubt, high stakes, and extraordinary stress, and it was exactly what Kathy Cramer suggests in Lead Positive: my ability to honestly reflect and acknowledge challenges and limitations in myself, my team, and current technology, and then summon the courage to focus on what was possible—what could be done with the assets I had in hand and what greatness would be if we built the smartest machine in the world. In retrospect, the ideas in Lead Positive enabled me to stay focused, conquer seemingly impossible tasks, and keep the team motivated. I may have acquired them innately, but this book makes the attitudes, ideas, thought processes, and behaviors underlying leadership explicit and accessible to anyone. Had I just dwelled on everything we could not do and our weaknesses, rather than working with our assets, Watson—and its impact on science and business— would have never happened.”
—David Ferrucci, artificial intelligence scientist and research lead responsible for Watson, IBM 

“The concepts Kathy Cramer has introduced in Lead Positive will be as dynamic a tool in the workplace as her previous books about asset-based thinking (ABT). I found ABT to be such a powerful concept that I have distributed copies of her last book to all my employees. I look forward to sharing Kathy’s new book with them.”
—Louisa Jaffe, CEO and president, TAPE

“Kathy Cramer’s Lead Positive connects many previously unconnected aspects of the work of the leader. By showing readers how what they see, say, and do positively impacts themselves, others, and their current situations, she connects their intrapersonal potential with the interpersonal practice of leadership.”
—Peter J. Dean, founder and president, Leaders By Design; author, The Coachable Leader

 “If we all lived by Kathy Cramer’s five-to-one principle (five positive thoughts or actions for every one negative), our world would be a better place. Every leader and potential leader needs to read Lead Positive to learn all the ways they can increase their positive impact.”
—Barbara B. Grogan, founder and past CEO, Western Industrial Contractors

Lead Positive confirms what I believe and have experienced as a community leader. Leaders who are geared toward potential and approach their work with abundance are far more likely to rise above the scarcity and barriers that prevent us from moving forward. Kathy Cramer provides us with a personal roadmap toward a very positive future!”
—Kelly Pollock, executive director, Center of Creative Arts (COCA)

“The strategies and practices that we have learned from Kathy Cramer over the last twelve years have transformed our work as educational consultants. Now, Lead Positive offers everyone the chance to understand effective ways to lead others, building on a foundation of strengths and assets. Kathy has written a compelling and positively practical book for our time.”
—Louise Cadwell and Ashley Cadwell, cofounders, Cadwell Collaborative LLC

Lead Positive is one of those rare books that can change lives by combining simple, yet profound insights into human motivation with actionable tools. Kathy Cramer has made an immensely valuable contribution to the study and practice of leadership.”
—Bryan Mattimore, author, Idea Stormers

“Just when you thought you had heard the last word on leadership, this revolutionary new book reframes, renews, and reenergizes the act of leading. Lead Positive is more than a feel-good book—it equips leaders with a foundation and a compass for being more compelling, more courageous, and more compassionate.”
—Chip Bell, author, The 9 ½ Principles of InnovativeService

“Yes! There is much more to say about leadership, and Kathy Cramer says it! Lead Positive is a life-changing playbook for transforming yourself into an uplifting, engaging, optimistic, magnetic, courageous, and effective leader. Supported by compelling research, brilliant insights, and powerful stories, Kathy provides concrete tools for embracing the mindset and the actions that make you an inspirational, positive force in your organization and your life.”
—Wendy Leebov, president, Language of Caring

“The most powerful leadership tool is reflection, which leads to positive and deliberative action. Lead Positive is a deceptively simple yet high-impact methodology for achieving successful outcomes.”
—Susan Lucia Annunzio, president and COO, The Center for High Performance; author, eLeadership and Contagious Success

“Kathy Cramer’s asset-based thinking approach to leadership is exactly what our overly cynical, negative, and critical world needs to mobilize our people to perform optimally. A refreshingly new and optimistic perspective on leadership at any level.”
—Molly D. Shepard, founder and CEO, The Leader’s Edge; cofounder and former president, Manchester Inc.; author, Breaking Into the Boys’ Club

Lead Positive really works to maximize leadership effectiveness. It helped us change our team’s mindset from ‘negativity bias’ to a focus on the positive, and taught us to really listen to each other and to be able to collectively articulate our vision.”
—Mary Alice Ryan, president and CEO, St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System

Lead Positive is the owner’s manual for ABT Leadership, filled with easy tools and step-by-step instructions to be used every day, in any situation.”
—Gifford Booth, cofounder and CEO, The TAI Group

Lead Positive is one of those rare leadership books that I am recommending not only to my work colleagues but also to my friends and family. It is one thing to tell someone to lead from Cramer—Lead Positive a positive approach, and another to give them the tools and methods to put it into action. Lead Positive does both and more. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to raise their leadership skills to the next level and have a positive influence on the people around them.”
—Mark Wagner, vice president, global sales, DuPont

“Kathy Cramer’s Lead Positive shows you how to get the most out of yourself as a person so that you can be the best leader possible. Her insights and tools on how to leverage the positive dynamics of any situation are critical to making each moment count.”
—Jason W. Womack, founder,

Lead Positive is a terrific roadmap for the personal journey of leadership transformation. Kathy Cramer’s insightful step-bystep process serves as a guide for putting your leadership intentions into action. As you transform, so will your organization. Mine did!”
—Joyce M. Dear, operations leader, Equifax Workforce Solutions

“I found Lead Positive to be easy to read, with great examples and guidance of how others have been successful applying asset-based thinking. I found the material on substance, sizzle, and soul to be particularly interesting and helpful.”
—Mark Engel, vice president, division marketing, Express Scripts

“Kathryn Cramer’s Lead Positive is a refreshing break from much of today’s psychobabble about leadership. Lead Positive is a treasure trove of guidance for the kind of authenticity that truly engages people’s heads, hearts, and hopes.”
—Rodger Dean Duncan, author, Change-Friendly Leadership

“This book goes beyond the traditional case study regurgitation of best practices and gives us the gift of true insight and practical steps to become better leaders. True to asset-based thinking, it provides us with what we can do instead of what we are not doing.”
—John Sweeney, speaker, trainer, author, and owner, Brave New Workshop Comedy Theater