If there were any doubts about the power of positivism in a business , the pandemic has unequivocally demonstrated its significance in leading a business According to an article by Forbes, positivity is the water in this desert we call life, and with so much uncertainty in the world —in politics and in business —it’s an absolutely crucial component of leadership.

In our previous article, we mentioned that optimism among business leaders, according to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) survey of mid-market companies, had fallen to 59%, down from a recent high of 70% at the end of 2021. Despite this fall, optimism was still above historic averages, suggesting that mid-market firms or SMEs had confidence that conditions would improve, even when faced with some significant challenges.

This positive outlook of leaders has been crucial during the pandemic. Based on my experience, it is one of the main ingredients needed by the decision makers, managers, supervisors, and staff to survive and even flourish during trying times. While numerous articles highlight the impact of positivism in the workplace, the list showcasing positivism's effects is far from exhaustive. Drawing from my experiences working with exceptional leaders during periods of growth, stability, and adversity within our firm and observing our clients, I wish to share the lessons learned.

Embrace the uncertainties and look ahead

Business decisions heavily rely on historical facts and future possibilities backed up with diligent research.  It is also not surprising for businesses to have plans ready to implement to ensure continuous operations in cases of possible uncertainties. Nobody, however, has prepared for the extraordinary global pandemic and its enormous impact on all aspects of society.

In 2020 and 2021, it is reasonable to wonder when the pandemic will be over.  But we’ve come a long way, and we quickly used the opportunities to optimize our business. Despite the initial wonder about when the pandemic would end, we eventually learned to embrace uncertainties as an expectedly abnormal part of the challenge and a learning aspect of the business cycle. As Forbes eloquently puts it, "There is nothing new that we cannot learn," and through our people, we can acquire new abilities to achieve our goals. As a saying goes, “A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.” ― Chinese Proverb.

Strategize and re-strategize to adapt to change

I, myself, have witnessed how our leaders managed their people, focused their strategies, and realigned their resources.

The past 3 years have seen an intense re-engineering of processes on how to adapt to new customer expectations and deliver our services to our clients. The most classic and go-to marketing strategies may have been scrapped because, in an instant, they are no longer applicable or efficient. 

Now, we are transitioning back to a face-to-face era. The pandemic also offered new opportunities that businesses capitalized on, such as the transition to virtual meetings and leveraging technology to connect with clients and personnel worldwide. The previous one or two personal meetings in a day turned into a jam-packed Microsoft teams and Zoom meetings which ranges from eight to ten meetings in a day. As we move back towards face-to-face interactions, businesses are rethinking strategies that balance the interests of both clients and employees, consistently adapting to the ever-changing needs of the business. A positive mindset, rooted in positivism, has been the driving force behind this flexibility and adaptability.  In summary, we are consistently strategizing to fit the ever-changing needs of the business.  As one of our Partners quoted during our quarterly virtual socials, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” ― Charles Darwin.

Acknowledge every contribution of your team

A hundred pesos is not a hundred if a five-cent coin is missing. A little contribution is still a contribution.

As our deputy chairman normally says, nobody, not even him, absolutely knows all the tax rules and regulations. As mentioned in a Harvard Business Review article, there is an inherent limit for each of us regarding what we can know and our ability to have an objective perspective on any given situation. Yet, we can exponentially expand our knowledge and perspective by cultivating and connecting with a network of peers and colleagues, each with their own set of experiences and perspectives. It is true enough that in a challenging situation, every team member and their contributions count. The ideas, plans, and solutions that are taken into consideration in decision making are not reserved for the leaders, but also for the staff.  “A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself…to praise the skills of others.” – Norman Shidle.

Set a positive company culture

Businesses can create an environment that encourages positive thinking and contribution, such as involvement in operational planning or open-door policies. These are some practices for intentionally reaching out to our team for insight and perspective. When we allow our people to be engaged in the process of decision-making, they are likely to take ownership of the implementation steps of the plans that they were involved in. 

Set up social activities frequently. These can create camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Motivating the team, even though it’s challenging in a remote setting, is still a classic way of generating results. 

Set a tone that people will follow. The leaders are always looked up to by the people in the business. Have this opportunity to show the people the ability to approach situations from a calm and clearheaded perspective.

“Leaders create culture. Culture drives behavior. Behavior produces results.” —Urban Meyer.

Be transparent to the people

Lastly, business leaders should be transparent with their people. This can be learned the hard way, but gone are the days wherein the employees were quiet for every decision that their leaders decide.  Now, with the different generations active in the workforce, there can be different understandings or interpretations of how decisions were made. Some may be misled and assumed the worst and not the better.

Don’t forget to explain to your team how the short-term objectives fit into the longer-term strategy. “Resentment can build and loyalty can be tested when the team doesn't understand the “why” behind the tactical minutiae. Treat employees like investors, providing consistent and thoughtful communication with a holistic lens that helps them understand the bigger picture.” —Dan Swift, Empire Selling.

In conclusion, positivism, the power of maintaining a positive mindset and outlook, lies at the core of effective business leadership. Embracing uncertainty, adapting to change, acknowledging every team member's contribution, fostering a positive company culture, and maintaining transparency are all guided by this essential principle. By incorporating positivism, business leaders can navigate uncertainties successfully and drive their organizations towards growth and success.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 02 August 2023