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  • Writer's pictureUlrika Gustafson PCC LL.M

Nurturing Positivity: Coaching a Negative Leader on Your Team


Nurturing positivity is a crucial leadership skill.

In the fast-paced world of leadership, fostering a positive work environment is paramount. That doesn´t mean that it is always easy. Over the past year, there has been a noticeable uptick in executive clients seeking advice and assistance on coaching a leader on their team who maintains a consistently negative perspective. Here's a strategic guide to transforming negativity into constructive growth:


1. Empathy First, Critique Second


Begin by understanding the underlying causes of their negativity. Approach the individual with empathy, creating a safe space for open dialogue. This sets the foundation for addressing concerns without escalating tension.


2. Highlight Positive Aspects


Reinforce the importance of acknowledging achievements within their area of responsibility. Emphasize strengths and successes to shift focus from constant fault-finding. Celebrate wins, no matter how small, to create a more balanced perspective.


"Negativity is the enemy of creativity." – David Lynch

3. Constructive Feedback Framework


Introduce a feedback mechanism that encourages constructive criticism rather than fault-finding. Guide the individual to provide feedback in a way that is solution-oriented and helps foster improvement rather than dwelling on problems.


4. Encourage Collaboration


Foster a culture of collaboration across areas of responsibility. This shift from a silo mentality can help the individual see the bigger picture and appreciate the challenges others face. Create opportunities for cross-functional projects and open communication channels.


5. Set Clear Expectations


Clearly define expectations for the individual's role in promoting a positive work environment. Establishing measurable goals for fostering a constructive atmosphere can provide a roadmap for improvement.


6. Regular Check-ins and Support


Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress and provide ongoing support. As an experienced leader, offer guidance on managing stress and maintaining a positive mindset. Share relevant personal development resources to reinforce positive habits.


7. Implement a Recognition Program


Instigate a company- or department-wide recognition program to acknowledge outstanding contributions. This not only boosts morale but also redirects the individual's focus towards appreciating the efforts of others.

Remember, transforming negativity into a positive force requires patience and consistent effort. By leveraging these strategies, senior leaders can effectively coach their team members towards a more constructive and supportive leadership style.



Ulrika Gustafson LL.M PCC is a partner of HAMILTON THERRELL Executive Advisors, an international advisory group of experts in leadership and organizational transformation. She advises CEOs and coaches senior executives on succeeding in demanding environments.

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