Positive Leaders Manage Their Mind’s ‘Flashlight’

A high performance leader has to be positive to achieve their desired results, but how do you get into – and stay in – that state? Leadership: A Master Class participant, George Kohlrieser talks about “leading from the mind’s eye” in his courses on high performance leadership at IMD.

Focus matters, he says, but in two senses: focusing on positive emotions, and knowing where you’re going – and using those emotions to get to where you’re going. This is part of the art of leadership, and from the emotional intelligence point of view it draws on every aspect, particularly emotional self-regulation.

I asked Professor Kohlrieser to explain how leaders can focus on maintaining a positive self during our discussion for my video series. Here’s what he had to say.

“How you manage your own emotions is determined by how you focus. The mind’s eye is like a flashlight. This flashlight can always search for something positive or something negative. The secret is being able to control that flashlight – to look for the opportunity and the positive. When you do that, you’re playing to win. You’re able to focus on the right things and maintain that positive self.

Now, the brain by default is going to look for what is negative until you’re assured of survival. Once you feel that you are able to survive, then you can look for the positive. So many people in organizations, and in life, feel like they are hostages. They are looking at what can go wrong in order to survive, and they don’t play to win. They play not to lose. They’re too defensive. The state you’re in is determined by what you focus on, and this focus is very critical to manage. But a leader, using emotional intelligence and self-regulation, not only has to focus their own mind’s eye, but to help others focus their mind’s eye.

As a hostage negotiator, I like to make parallels to the hostage situation. A hostage taker wants something, and the hostage negotiator has to be able to form a bond, form a relationship with that negative person. Through that relationship we get into a dialogue to understand what they need, what the loss is, what the pain is, and help them change the mindset and look for a way out: to give up their hostages, give up their weapons and come out knowing they’re probably going to go to prison. The success rate is about 95%. That speaks to what humans really ultimately want – they want to be part of life. But it also has a lot to do with the negotiator staying positive in the moment, and focusing on a positive outcome.”

By : Daniel Goleman – LInkedin Article


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