This snow didn’t last more than an hour. But the harsh reality of snow in October brought a wave of negativity in me that caught my attention.

As I’m writing this message, snow is falling outside here in Minnesota. Seriously?  It’s only October…its not suppose to be this cold and dark yet. My first thought: this is going to be a long and hard winter. I don’t like it already. And I can’t be the only one! This message is urging you to prepare for a wave of narrow thinking and negativity in your leadership.

Prepare yourself, so you can help others

Catching myself in my own negativity was an exercise in self-awareness and self-acceptance. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not asking you to accept, encourage, or use negativity in your leadership with others. Rather, I’m urging you to expect/anticipate negativity in others. Can you listen for negativity from your team as a symptom of underlying tensions that need to be addressed?

Last week, our team has facilitated two Leadership Alignment Retreats the old fashioned way: we gathered in a hotel meeting room – socially distanced – and worked on Alignment, Commitment, and Open Accountability. Even though people in both groups were on their best behavior…the most significant moments were when senior executives skated on the edge of professionalism to voice their opinions (frustrations?) in strongly negative ways. Some stayed on the right side of professionalism…others not so much.

In both situations, this was the first time the team has been together face to face in more than six months. In one, the first time this team has ever met as a whole. They all admitted the working-from-home thing is stressful in its confinement and isolation. And they had things they needed to vent. Like the coming of a cold and dark pandemic winter.

Negativity when left unchecked, and used for power becomes “toxic.”  Good leaders address negativity quickly with their people to make sure it doesn’t fester into toxic energy. And sometimes that means checking the negativity inside yourself.

Our jobs now on the verge of a dark Covid winter, is to help people important to our success work through their negativity bias, to find their positivity. That’s good leadership.