University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Leadership and the Power of the Positive

The Power of the Positive

March 12, 2020 | By Steve Schumacher

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For most, I believe “the power of the positive” is relatively intuitive – it’s not just a mantra to lead by, it’s a mantra to live by.

As a leader, I find this to be one of the most effective and efficient enablers, not only when dealing with teams and business issues but also dealing with your own internal self.

I am not talking about blind optimism here. I am simply talking about being positive. It seems to me that the human brain is wired to be negative – we anticipate threats, we exaggerate threats. That is protective, but it can be burdensome when we lean too far negative. With positive people, we remember their upbeat nature or “glass is half full” mentality.

I also find positivity to be contagious and have seen the knock-on effect throughout my organization and also with my friends and family. I find myself energized when I am about to engage with people who I know are going to be upbeat and positive. I also believe I do far more for people that are upbeat and positive towards me.

Traits That Enhance Positivity

There are two extraordinarily important traits that enhance positivity.

The first is energy. Energy is a critical part of positivity because you must have inner fuel to always be up for what you must face every day. I believe everyone understands that negativity zaps your energy. When I feel negative, I sure feel tired and uninspired to keep pushing. Positive energy really helps block that out because you simply move past it either in a physical way or in the mental aspect of continuing to push.

The second is perseverance. This is about believing that you will be successful. Knowing that you are going to keep pushing and knowing that you are going to do it well will keep out the negative and keep people focused. I spent a number of years in the world of triathlon racing. I completed full Ironman races and participated in age group races. Energy and perseverance are what allow you to move forward every day and push yourself to explore your limits.

Positivity Can Be Commercialized

In our world of volatile retail, I believe positivity can truly be commercialized. It is easy to understand that you are able to see more opportunities when you are leaning positive than the opportunities you see when you lean negative. Additionally, from a talent attraction and development standpoint, driving positivity can have a fantastic effect on your broader culture. When I am building teams I consistently look at the positive nature of people when selecting them and as it relates to career advancement.

Getting to positive isn’t hard. Starting the day with a good morning and a smile goes a long way to changing your outlook and the outlook of others around you. One of the few things that you get to choose every day is how you start each interaction from an attitude perspective. I encourage you to find those things that let you start positive. If it’s a morning jog, stretch or just some cleansing breadths, it is important to ensure you start in the correct place.

Be Positive, Be Present

Positivity requires you to be present. When you are present in the moment for people, they will recognize it and your authentic positivity will land with them.

Life can be challenging, use your energy and perseverance to unleash the impact and power of the positive.

Post Author:

Matt WallerSteve Schumacher, vice president, Global Walmart Team Lead and U.S. Club, is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Customer Development Organization and business delivery for Walmart and Club customers. He has a background that includes more than 29 years in customer development and in the customer service organization for Unilever. He has a B.S. in marketing from St. Louis University. Along with wife Stefanie and their two children, Nathan, 22, and Jessica, 19, they enjoy all outdoor activities. Steve has competed and completed multiple Ironman and Triathlon events over the past few years.