I find it persistently perplexing to observe people who wastefully scourge their own futures capitulating to out-of-control emotionally charged reactive positions.  There is no doubt

Good Attitude: a C.O.E.

regarding the power of an emotionally driven passion, and its ability to create a fixated and compelled response.  When passions run positive they heighten goals, purpose efforts, achieve the extraordinary and enrich lives.  But when these emotions are thwarted towards negative passions, the results of anger, guilt, resentment, despair, and fear can have a devastating effect on one’s performance.  Their corrosive capability to dislodge critical thinking and embed negativity, as a locked-in position within one’s psyche, supplants achievement and activates a self-destructive downward spiral which inevitably destroys the success of any mission.  These destructive passions are firmly beached in what someone “feels” is their personal justified response to a perceived “wrong”.  Whether anger, resentment or one of the other passion thugs they all typically manifest themselves beneath the shroud of a Bad Attitude.

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
Albert Einstein

In my early executive career, I gained responsibility for the US Operations of our company-owned dealerships.  Although operational proficiency was an established forte of mine, many of the organizational managers had only discerned the context of my Sales Management responsibilities.  The new Leadership transition was un-momentous with the exception of several hold-outs from the “old guard” Operations Managers who comprised my new team.  I rigorously embarked on numerous field trips to every location to constitute a common vision, firm up strategies, focus tactile plans and build relationships.  As our team solidified around our aggressive goals, results vaulted forward and our program began to take off, with one exception.  My Operations Manager in Pittsburgh just wasn’t coming around.  His organization was healthy enough to yield tolerable numbers, but he was sluggish to adopt new concepts and promote new directions.

I decided the time had come for what my esteemed mentor at the time, Terry McGushin, used to call a “come-to Jesus meeting”.  A “put it on the line” and let the chips fall where they will, type of meeting.  I flew into Pittsburgh with a four-hour window for my return flight.  I conveyed no purpose to review branch activity or performance.  There was no agenda except to have one honest conversation with one individual.

Upon arriving and exchanging pleasantries with our team there, I sat down for a tough one-on-one with our Operations Manager.  With nothing in front of me except the determination on my face, I definitively explained I was unhappy with his unresponsiveness, undermining, and impedance of our mission and direction. As our discussion progressed he expounded his pent-up frustration culminating from events over the last 15 years of his career.  I sat back and conceded the floor as he spoke of injustices, oversights and disagreements which had led to his amassed feeling of disenchantment.  As he decelerated from the weight of his swelling baggage, I moved unwaveringly into his soliloquy.  Granting his insurmountable past perceptions, I leaned forward to encroach upon his space and ensure he was “in the present” with me.

I asked him to listen carefully to what I had to say, and then made it clear that I was unable to rewrite his history, but if he desired a future on our team he must embrace a Positive Attitude.  He retorted how he was feeling better about the current direction of the company (an instantaneous new revelation) and he felt “in time” he could improve how he felt.  At this point, I briskly halted his explication, met eye to eye, and quietly mandated my fervent resolve; “I do not consider Attitude to be a Time-Sensitive issue.  You can change it anytime you want to!  If you wish to continue working here, you have until next Monday to change yours.”  After encouraging his positive and immediate deliberation our exchange ended and I promptly headed to the airport.  Unfortunately, rather than embrace the opportunity for a New Outlook, he sulked and piled our conversation on his heap of grievances and was terminated within 30 days.  I promptly hired an exceedingly bright new Operations Manager with no baggage and an inspiring uplifting can-do Attitude who quickly turned the location into our performance flagship and became a rising star in the organization.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

Thomas Jefferson

Leaders must eradicate Bad Attitudes from their team without sympathy or conciliation.  Bad Attitudes are a contamination which embitter and attempt to exterminate all life around them.  Sometimes it is convenient to forget that Leaders are people too.  They accumulate their setbacks, disappointments, struggles and resentments just like everyone else.  So your first step as a Leader in slaying Bad Attitudes is a self-awareness check.  Leaders must bring Passion to the arena in order to mobilize their team to extraordinary achievement.  But those Passions must be grounded in the positive inspiring experiences of your past and the unconquerable hope of your future.  Acknowledge your baggage and leave it at the door so you are able to arrive for work in the present.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Be serious, be truthful, and be genuine.  If your own Attitude needs an adjustment, do it Right Now!

Destruction of Bad Attitudes

Good attitude is contagious bad attitude is infectious.  We are not talking about someone who is having a bad day or going through a difficult time.  A Bad Attitude is one which is engrained in someone’s daily behavior.  It appears as sarcasm, complaining, apathy, negativity, pessimism, undermining, defiance, insubordination, bad moods, and unscrupulous behavior.  A Bad Attitude affects your entire team and distracts them from their focus.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

Lou Holtz

Additionally, a Bad Attitude perpetuates a decline in the quality of someone’s work.  It sabotages the ability to deliver one’s best effort.  Whether birthed from self-pity or the Blame Game, it becomes impossible for these negative passions to be set aside in the best interests of the company’s pursuits.  A Bad Attitude is costly to positive energy, momentum, achievement, and results in a loss of real dollars and cents.  Once someone abandons their Personal Commitment to Quality with the justification that it is not their fault they become a liability to you as a Leader.

You cannot tolerate a Bad Attitude regardless of your understanding of their position.  Doing so will only enable their behavior.  It is a Condition of Employment (C.O.E.) for someone to enter work with a Positive Attitude.  A-Teams are built on Positive Attitude and as a Leader you must set this expectation in stone.  Remember, it is not your job to fix people.  It is your job to find A-Players and build a successful team with them.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Charles R. Swindoll

Leaders must be capable of dealing with a full range of human passions and emotions to be effective at gaining maximum performance.  They must deeply care about the concerns and difficulties of their team in order to support them in a thriving atmosphere.  But when emotions turn negative and begin to burrow into someone’s psyche, your team becomes threatened by a Bad Attitude.  A Street Smart Leader doesn’t blink.  He looks Bad Attitude eye to eye and asks it to leave right now … one way or the other.

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