According to The Business Dictionary, attitude is:  “A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual's choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).”

The words that jump out as important in this definition are:



  • Respond



  • Positively or negatively



  • Influences



  • Action



In light of this, we can say that when we respond to things with a positive attitude, that response influences positive action in us and others. We can also say that the opposite is true.

We could end this article right now by simply saying – As a leader, manager or executive in business; do the former and not the latter. But if you are like me, I bet that you could use some “how to” examples and tips.

Here they are, six tips for having a positive attitude in business:

1. Keep an open mind.  Always be open to the possibility that a life change you have refused to consider might be the key to transforming your life for the better.

This type of attitude impresses your colleagues. Why? Because most of them have been faced with the same challenge and chose to not change. Their attitude towards the change has been clouded with self-doubt and lack of courage.

When you are willing to keep an open mind, you are responding positively to the challenge of a life change that has the possibility of a great reward.

Be different than those around you. Be open.

2. Be proactive, not reactive.  A reactive individual is at the mercy of change. A proactive individual sees change as a part of the process and takes action to make the best of it.

Having a proactive attitude requires work. You must be able to think ahead and anticipate. It involves being involved.

In business (and life) you cannot simply sit back and let things just happen as they will.  In truth, you could, but that attitude is a negative response that influences negative action, namely, reaction.

Do a little mental work beforehand. Get in the game and be proactive.

3. Go with the flow.  Present an easy, casual and friendly attitude that shows your flexibility, yet at the same time portrays your persistence in the face of obstacles and adversity.

This is not the negative “sit back and let things happen” attitude described above. Persistence in the face of obstacles and adversity is what sets it apart.

Having an attitude that is easy and casual, without stepping outside the bounds of proper etiquette and being friendly, is some of the best advice I can give to leaders in business.

Be persistent while going with the flow.

4. Think big. If you think small, you will achieve something small. If you think big, then you are more likely to achieve a goal that is beyond your wildest dreams.

When we allow ourselves to have an attitude that pushes boundaries and explores possibilities, we draw in people who have the same attitude. In other words, by thinking big we find big thinkers.

Want to have a team full of big thinkers? Want to have meetings where ideas are shared and positive plans are made? Want to grow leaders out of your team and promote them to new heights in their career? It all starts with your big-thinking, boundary-pushing, dream-inspiring attitude.

Go ahead – think big.

5. Be persuasive, not manipulative. Use your persuasive talents to persuade others of your worth. Don’t use it to convince someone that others are worth less than you.

Have you ever had a manipulative boss?  Have you ever had a persuasive boss?

6. Enter action with boldness. When you do something, do it boldly and with confidence so that you make your mark. Wimping out is more likely to leave you stuck in the same old pattern and immune to positive change.

In the end it’s all about getting things done – with a positive attitude. As leaders, we need to be able to move and work with a certain sense of boldness. A boldness that inspires us and those around us to reach for new horizons in all we do.

It’s obvious, action is better than no action – but bold action that leaves a mark is what we should be doing in our life and business.

Do something and do it with a bold attitude.

Attitude really is everything in business. It is the force that empowers us to respond positively to the challenges we face on a daily basis. It allows us to enjoy what we do as we do it. It builds us and our teams.

DeLores Pressleymotivational speaker and personal power expert, is one of the most respected and sought-after experts on success, motivation, confidence and personal power. She is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a life of significance. Her story has been touted in The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, First for Women, Essence, New York Daily News, Ebony and Marie Claire. She is a frequent media guest and has been interviewed on every major network – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – including America’s top rated shows OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight.

She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life” and “Believe in the Power of You.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at 330.649.9809 or via email or visit her website at

Published in Columnist
Monday, 03 December 2012 17:04

8 bad work habits to avoid

In our world of quick text missives, sharing the daily joke via inner office email, and generally more relaxed workplaces, informality can become a workplace hazard. Studies show that employers and managers often assess an employee’s career potential based on how that employee carries himself or herself in the workplace. None of us wants to be judged by the externals, but our respective “book covers” matter.

Poor manners at work – however unintentional - can lead to workplace conflict because they distract fellow employees from working or, in the worst cases, offend co-workers who have differing viewpoints and cause potential legal liability for the employer.

Therefore, it’s ideal to avoid these 8 bad work habits:

  1. Talking loudly on telephones and in person in common areas.
  2. Interjecting comments into conversations between other employees, unless your opinion is solicited.
  3. Taking supplies – even if they were bought by the office – from other employee’s work areas without getting prior approval.
  4. Wearing perfume that can be smelled even after you leave an area.
  5. Gossiping about co-workers or people outside the workplace.
  6. Sharing racial, religious or sexual jokes in any format.
  7. Arriving late to meetings.
  8. Regularly using large chunks of work time to resolve personal and family matters.

Most employees want to be viewed as valuable, contributing members of the company team. Thus, it’s worthwhile to periodically assess our workplace demeanor and, perhaps, adjust our behaviors, to help convey that image. Your future with your employer likely depends on it.

Patricia Adams is the CEO of Zeitgeist Expressions and the author of “ABCs of Change: Three Building Blocks to Happy Relationships.” In 2011, she was named one of Ernst & Young LLP’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women, one of Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year Award and the SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year for Region VI. Her company, Zeitgeist Wellness Group, offers a full-service Employee Assistance Program to businesses in the San Antonio region. For more information, visit

Published in Akron/Canton

“Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress, which is a thousand times greater than the 20th century.” — author and futurist Ray Kurzweil

The accelerated rate of change in our world is staggering and yet undeniable. We all ask about it, but what does the astounding rate of change really mean for our daily lives? One of the implications is that leaders must be able to adapt to increasingly complex, interdependent and ever-changing environments. Adaptability is no longer a desirable skill but a necessary one.

Leaders and their organizations won’t survive without it. Here I share the building blocks that every adaptive leader must master.

Be open to learning

Often when we say someone is “open to learning,” we mean they’re open to learning new information. Certainly this is an admirable and desirable trait. There is another form of being open to learning that is critical, yet more uncomfortable and often neglected: openness to learning about our own personal behaviors.

This openness to learning requires that we look inward and examine how we continue to apply old behaviors to new challenges.

Consider a project team with a goal to deliver a product by a certain deadline. The deadline is not met. In assessing what went wrong, the project manager blames a host of external factors: the client, the supply chain and individual team members.

An adaptive leader considers these same factors but also turns the microscope inward on himself. He observes his own behaviors, evaluates their effectiveness, learns what worked and what didn’t, and then takes action to visibly modify his personal leadership behaviors so that the next time he encounters a similar situation, he can move himself and those around him closer to the desired goal.

Practice openness to learning by asking yourself: What is the business impact I desire to have in this situation? What’s the discrepancy between my desired impact and what’s really taking place? How do my behaviors and habits contribute to this discrepancy and what can I do differently?

Embrace the truth

Embracing the truth requires being truthful in the moment — truthful about ourselves, about our business environment and about the impact we are having on performance. An adaptive leader constantly seeks to understand the impact she is having on others — as opposed to what she wants to see — and embraces the truth no matter how unpleasant it is. She is not mechanically repeating rote behaviors that might have worked for her in the past.

Instead she is consciously experimenting with new and different behaviors with the intent to have an improved impact on her performance and the performance of others.

Increasingly, there’s a lack of transparent and honest behavior within many companies. I meet many men and women who are hungry for greater transparency and honesty within their companies and don’t know how to lead the charge. Adaptive leaders that embrace the truth can set the tone for this change through their behaviors of transparency, authenticity and truthfulness.

Have a broad range of leadership habits

There’s a well-known Bruce Barton quote that says, “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” An adaptive leader is never through changing. He continually seeks opportunities to develop new skills and more productive and effective habits. He acknowledges when he doesn’t have the necessary tools/skills to handle a situation and seeks to build new skills and create new habits.

The adaptive leader also actively seeks to expand his palette of already exiting healthy behaviors and strengths by applying them in new and different situations. Leaders need to identify a healthy behavior that would benefit from being expanded, or a new behavior that needs to be added to the palette. Like an underused muscle, it needs to be exercised. How can you slowly begin to use it in new situations?

Continue personal improvement

Continuous personal improvement is the bedrock of the other three traits. It’s the consistent discipline of and commitment to constant personal improvement. It requires moving from awareness of your behaviors to intentional, observable action. Awareness only matters insofar as it affects action.

A leader may know that he’s a bad listener, but only when he starts visibly demonstrating better listening skills does that self-knowledge become useful.

An adaptive leader is continually looking at the results of his actions and asking if they were what he intended. If the results were not intended, he asks what he can do differently in the future in order to achieve his desired impact. He does this every time, no matter what. No excuses. No exceptions.

Donna Rae Smith is a guest blogger for Smart Business. She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc., a transformational change catalyst company that has partnered with more than 250 of the world’s most influential companies. For more information, please visit or contact Donna Rae Smith at 

Published in Akron/Canton

Deborah, an executive in the consumer products industry, was asked by her boss to conduct an internal assessment of one of the company’s programs. She uncovered some potentially serious issues and was careful to address each one in the report she prepared. A few days after she submitted it, her boss called her into his office. He had red-lined page after page.

To Deborah’s surprise, he wasn’t interested in discussing her findings. “Look at the language you use,” he said. “You’re qualifying all of your observations. You don’t sound sure of yourself. You’re minimizing your entire assessment.”

As Deborah flipped through the report, she found instance after instance where she had diluted the impact of her observations. She realized that if she didn’t convey herself confidently, her message risked being lost. How could she present herself more confidently in the future?

There are plenty of ways we unintentionally undermine ourselves, whether it’s in our written words, our conversations, presentations or the way we carry ourselves.

Deborah’s problem — of softening her language to avoid ruffling feathers — is one way that a lack of confidence inhibits direct communication. Another way is when people intentionally distort, manipulate or hide the facts in order to present themselves in a more flattering light. People take credit for work they didn’t do, try to make others look bad or inflate their successes to get ahead. Lack of confidence is often at its root, as people aren’t comfortable or content to present themselves as they truly are.

If you struggle with one of these problems, either personally or with your staff, there is no quick fix. The good news is you don’t have to wait to feel fully confident. Start communicating directly and honestly and your confidence will improve.

Here are a few good strategies for communicating directly and honestly for maximum impact.

Delivery goes a long way. For one week, pay attention to how you convey your opinions and ideas to others. Does your language — written or verbal — command attention? Or do you instead soften your delivery so as not to seem too assertive? If you find yourself struggling with this, chances are you’re severely minimizing the impact of your message.

Create a safe climate. Leaders have a responsibility to create a climate where direct communication is valued and encouraged. Deborah’s boss did just that by speaking frankly with her. By doing so, he demonstrated his commitment to her and his belief that she can grow and become a stronger member of the team.

By helping her see how she was undermining her impact, he was telling her that her insights and opinions are valuable and encouraging her to be her own best advocate. If he had used a less direct approach, he likely would have found himself repeatedly frustrated with her work.

Stop qualifying. Next time you want to start a sentence with “I think that” or “I believe that …,” drop off the introductory phrase. Contrast the impact of “I think it would be beneficial to revise the marketing strategy” with “It would be beneficial to revise the marketing strategy,” or better yet, “I am confident that the marketing strategy must be revised.”

Don’t give in to fear. It’s a tough market out there, and there’s temptation in not rocking the boat. But in the long run, no one is well-served when you or your employees turn a blind eye to important but unpleasant information. Not only can this result in bad ethical decisions but in dangerous ones too.

One of our clients experienced this: Plant workers hid safety issues from management because they were afraid to tarnish the company’s strong safety record. It wasn’t until multiple workplace injuries occurred that the safety issues came to light.

Learn from others. Identify a colleague or two whom you perceive as being confident. How do they communicate? How do you know by their speech that they are confident? What additional small steps can you take to deliver your ideas with more assurance and conviction?

Ultimately, it’s important to remember this: If you don’t sound convinced about what you’re saying, it’s hard to convince others.

Donna Rae Smith is a guest blogger for Smart Business. She has forged a career, enterprise and an applied discipline on the practice of teaching leaders to be masters of change. She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc., a transformational change catalyst company with an emphasis on the behavior-side of change. For more information, visit or contact Donna Rae at

Published in Akron/Canton

A client called me in a heightened state of frustration. Her business group recently made major decisions regarding strategy and future direction. While she was enthusiastic about what lay ahead, her team members weren’t. They were exhibiting signs of dissatisfaction and sowing the seeds of subversion. She needed to act quickly, but she didn’t know how.

Without knowing anything more, I could already guess the root of the problem: the team hadn’t felt included in the strategy-level decision-making. As I dug deeper, my suspicions were confirmed. Leadership had a history of asking for input and then stifling open and honest dialogue.

Another client recently went through a major restructuring. In the process, the company left employees in the dark by failing to communicate what was happening and why. By the time the client called Bright Side, it was facing a debilitating backlash.

Whether it’s leadership consistently disregarding (or failing to solicit) employee feedback or neglecting to communicate significant changes — the result is always the same: Employees end up feeling disrespected and devalued. Resentment simmers and eventually boils over.

Don’t misunderstand me. I know that not every decision can be subject to employee feedback. But, all too often, leadership loses sight of the organization’s most valued asset: its people. With a single-minded focus on the bottom line, leaders make the mistake of treating employees like automatons rather than people.

In the rush of getting the job done, leaders must remember these core truths: All people want to feel valued and respected for the work they do, to know that their contributions matter and to feel heard. When we overlook these principles, employees become disheartened, discouraged and disengaged. One way or another, the discontent manifests itself and everyone suffers.

The solution is to stay connected. Stay connected to your employees daily by cultivating honest person-to-person (rather than person-to-object) relationships, where respect and communication are the cornerstones. Demonstrate through your words and your actions that you value their work, that their input matters and that you believe in transparency. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you won’t at times make decisions that they don’t agree with. It means that the conversation will have happened — they’ll have spoken, you’ll have listened, and no one will be in the dark.

Create opportunities daily to demonstrate that employee feedback is valued. How? For starters, listen more and talk less. A good way to do that is to ask more questions. If you don’t like what you hear, don’t get defensive. A defensive reaction will only shut the conversation down and signal that you aren’t really interested in what others have to say. Instead, ask more questions to clarify and don’t take disagreement personally.

Intentionally seek out viewpoints that are different than your own. If you only talk to people who agree with you or tell you what you want to hear, then you’ll create a false sense of reality.

Lastly, be transparent. I can’t emphasize this enough. So many problems arise when leaders fail to be transparent in their decision-making. Don’t leave people guessing about important matters that impact them.

Resolve to actively practice these behaviors in meetings and routine interactions. Ask team members to follow suit. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate your willingness to learn and to be engaged. Morale will improve and you’ll head off unnecessary revolts and insurrections.

Donna Rae Smith is a guest blogger for Smart Business. She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc., a transformational change catalyst company that has partnered with more than 250 of the world’s most influential companies. For more information, please visit or contact Donna Rae Smith at

Published in Cleveland
Thursday, 01 March 2012 03:00

How to be an effective leader

The concept of effective leadership has been changing over the years. The traditional concept of a leader being the directing chief at the top of a hierarchy is incomplete at best, harmful to the organization or company at worst. In today’s world, this view simply does not truly appreciate the very nature of true leadership.

Leadership is also misunderstood to mean directing and instructing people and making important decisions on behalf of an organization. Yes, leaders make decisions. Yes, leaders instruct and teach. Effective leadership involves much more than these.

The very nature of effective leadership is seen in an understanding of the difference between "management" and "leadership." They are often mistaken as one and the same, which they are not.

Here are the distinguishing differences:

  • Management is concerned with processes.
  • Leadership is concerned with behavior.
  • Management relies on measurable capabilities like systems, goals, planning and evaluation.
  • Leadership, while involving many management skills, relies on less tangible and measurable things like trust, inspiration, motivation and personal character.

While a bit simplified, we can boil down the main difference between management and leadership to be: Leadership is about leading people and influencing behavior. Management is about managing processes and securing results.

With this difference in mind, let’s look at five tips for effective leadership:

1. Become a servant. Effective leadership involves serving. Too many leaders go about this backwards. They see the role of their people as servants to them as the leader. Good leaders see themselves as a servant of the organization and the people within it.

Ineffective leadership takes. It sets itself up to garner favor or personal gain. Servant leadership is an opportunity to give and to give in such a way that fosters growth in people.

2. Understand that leadership is about people. While leadership does involve making decisions and taking action, it is centrally concerned with people and behavior.

Strong leaders are able to see and understand vital relationships even within large and complex networks of people. These leaders then focus on building those vital relationships in such a way that adds to the trust level between them and these networks.

People follow leaders they trust. They also are drawn to leaders who possess positive qualities like:

  • integrity
  • honesty
  • humility
  • courage
  • commitment
  • sincerity
  • passion
  • confidence
  • positivity
  • wisdom
  • determination
  • compassion
  • sensitivity
  • character

When it all comes down to it, effective leaders can express their humanity in such a way that fosters trust and builds commitment from those they seek to lead.

3. Be an engaging conversationalist. Smart leaders spend their time starting and advancing conversations within their organization, not running away and hiding from them.

It is nearly impossible to engender the necessary confidence, trust and loyalty a leader must possess without being fully engaged.

A leader spends as much time out of the confines of the office engaging in real conversation with people as they do in their office planning, decision making and organizing.

Whether in person, over the phone, via email, through the social web, or even by sending a good old fashion "thank you" note – be an engaging conversationalist.

4. Listen. This tip piggy backs off of the former one. As you are an engaging conversationalist, listen.

Great leaders realize that there is far more to be gained by surrendering control of the conversation than by dominating it.

Being a leader doesn’t give license for you to talk just to hear your head rattle.  Powerfully effective leaders realize the value of what can be gleaned from the minds of others.

Know when it is time to stop talking and start listening. People want to be heard. They need their voice to be affirmed.

5. Lead yourself. It's important that leaders have the ability to focus and motivate themselves as they motivate others. In fact, without this ability securely fastened in your own life, you cannot be a truly effective leader of others.

It is often said that we lead by example, and we do. It is vitally important that we have a handle on the leadership of ourselves so that we have a positive, strong and trustworthy example for those we lead.

Leaders know that while some people can be considered “natural born leaders,” most have to learn the art. Therefore, effective leaders seek opportunities for personal growth. They seek out books to read, seminars they can attend or personal coaches to foster their growth.

Leaders never stop learning for their benefit and the benefit of those they serve.

Leadership is an exciting thing. It can be the most joyous and personally fulfilling work you do. It is my hope that you find these tips helpful along your journey.

DeLores Pressleymotivational speaker and personal power expert, is one of the most respected and sought-after experts on success, motivation, confidence and personal power. She is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a life of significance. Her story has been touted in The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, First for Women, Essence, New York Daily News, Ebony and Marie Claire. She is a frequent media guest and has been interviewed on every major network – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – including America’s top rated shows OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight.

She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life” and “Believe in the Power of You.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at 330.649.9809 or via email or visit her website at

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 10:15

The human side of the performance equation

A few years ago, Procter & Gamble’s Pringles plant in Jackson, Tenn., had an enviable reputation. The plant produced and distributed all of Pringles’ products in North and South America and the Asia-Pacific Region. The plant had received P&G’s highest certification, awarded for superior discipline and best work processes and practices. Its performance in all aspects of the business – production, delivery, service, quality and safety – was spectacular. In short, the plant was a shining star in the P&G family, performing at a world-class level.

It would have been easy to rest on their laurels. But for Nancy Gipson, plant manager, great wasn’t good enough. She was convinced they could do even better. She took action to further lean the plant’s best practice standard operating procedures.

As part of her efforts to further lean the operations, Gipson conducted a safety assessment. She came to the realization that not all safety incidents were being reported, because employees didn’t want to jeopardize the plant’s prized certification.

This realization was sobering to Gipson and the plant leadership team. Although the safety numbers were very impressive, Gipson wanted to improve them even more based on the assessment implications. And she wanted to ensure that no incident would ever go unreported again.

Upon closer review, the safety work processes were found to be solid and as lean as they could be without investing a ton of money for minimal returns. So Gipson turned her attention to the plant’s culture and individual behavioral practices. She found inconsistencies and tremendous variation within the workforce when it came to how they performed the safety processes on a day-to-day basis.

With Bright Side’s help, led by partner Chad Cook, Gipson and her colleagues came to understand that even the best processes rely on individual discretion and decision-making. In other words, work processes have a fundamental human component that increases variability and risk of failure. To significantly reduce lean process variability, Gipson and her team didn’t need to focus on the tasks being performed; they needed to focus on the human factor.

In order to ensure that the human or behavioral aspect was better integrated with work processes, Bright Side and P&G focused on three strategic behaviors:

1.   Transparency. The focus here was on creating a climate of trust where people could feel free to tell the truth, since reliable data about safety depends on people reporting what is really happening. At the same time, employees were helped to understand that safety holds a higher priority than productivity in the eyes of leadership. Maximizing production is not more important than safety when it comes to making decisions on the floor.

2.   Shared leadership and accountability. Safety is the responsibility of all employees. Employees were engaged to take responsibility and be accountable for their own individual safety and the safety of others over and above just following the safety processes.

3.   Business, self-rationalization. Employees were encouraged to actively engage their brains when making decisions rather than robotically following processes. The outcome is that they keep themselves and others safe while achieving the business plans and outcomes.

By intentionally modeling these behaviors, leaders proved that they believed in, were committed to and were taking the behaviors of safety seriously. Employees could see and hear in their behaviors that leadership was sincere about these changes, and that led to greater trust on all sides. With consistent and constant leadership, these behaviors took hold on the floor and throughout the plant.

The long-term impact has been exactly what Gipson originally sought: the plant has become an even greater model of success in its safety processes and beyond. The plant is measurably safer, has reduced costs, increased efficiency, reduced turnover, expanded production and improved quality. Employees, their families and leadership feel secure that people who work in the plant will leave work as healthy as when they arrived. On a recent tour, an exec from outside P&G remarked, “I have been to many facilities in the food industry, and you set the standard for any I have ever visited." The plant is now expanding their behavioral strategies to intentionally encompass every work process in the facility.

Our work with Pringles demonstrates what Bright Side endorses and delivers: to significantly improve performance and get a magnified return on investment, organizations need to find the balance between both the task and behavioral aspects of getting work accomplished. Many companies mistakenly believe that focusing exclusively on tasks is the solution for everything. They think they can infinitely improve processes and competencies by working harder. But the reality is that once you have removed most of the waste from a system or process, you get minimal benefit from continuing to focus on tiny gains in task improvement. A lean task focus has its limits.

The REAL, leverage-able opportunity for improvement then comes from a conscious and intentional focus on the human/behavioral side of getting work done, as the Pringles case study illustrates. It’s only when companies really commit to exploring and improving leadership engagement focused on strategic behaviors (actions, words, beliefs and assumptions) that productivity, consistency and effectiveness rise off the charts.

If you are already on the journey to lean your organization, don’t neglect the human/behavioral component. Expand your thinking to add the behavioral side of the performance equation to your current lean tools and processes.

Donna Rae Smith has forged a career, enterprise and an applied discipline on the practice of teaching leaders to be masters of change.  She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc., a transformational change catalyst company with an emphasis on the behavior-side of change.  For more than two decades, Donna Rae Smith and the Bright Side team have been recognized as innovators in executing behavioral strategies coalesced with business strategies to accelerate and sustain business results. Bright Side®, The Behavioral Strategy Company, has partnered with over 250 of the world’s most influential companies.  For more information, please visit or contact Donna Rae Smith at

Published in Akron/Canton