Difficult times loom ahead. Few of us feel at our brightest and most optimistic in the dark, cold days of January, February and March. How can we help maintain good cheer, hope and optimism amongst our staff, suppliers and customers? Here are some suggestions, maybe even a list of New Year resolutions!
Start every meeting by sharing some recent successes
If it’s a good news meeting, then sharing and celebrating successes only adds to the positive value of the meeting. If the meeting is going on to discuss difficult things, then it will help people to be creative, to think widely, and to avoid being drawn into the pit of despair.

Practice giving diamond feedback
Diamond feedback means being specific in your praise. Giving specific feedback feels more authentic than spraying ‘well done everybody’ around in a random manner, its easier; and it allows people to learn what is valued about the way they work.

Acknowledge difficulties; grow hope and optimism
These are difficult times for many of us. There is no virtue in hiding your head in the sand. However, in the face of bad news, it doesn’t take long for pessimism and hopelessness to take a grip. These emotional states are not conductive to dynamism, creativity and action. So acknowledge difficult realities, and feelings, and move as quickly as respectfully possible into helping people identify sources of hope and optimism.

Cherish the positive amongst you
We know some people are more naturally positive in their outlook and disposition than others. We also know that other people generally like to be around or involved with these people: they create positive energy networks in organizations. These are highly valuable to organizations, especially when the general atmosphere is demoralised. Find them, cherish them, use them.

Develop an appreciative eye and ear
Positive emotional states need to be continually created and re-created if you want to reap the benefits of positivity in your organization. Develop an eye and ear that are constantly looking or listening out for excellence, exceptional performance, success, tenacity and other things you value at work so you can see it, say it, and celebrate it with those displaying it.

Be generous with your appreciation and mean with your criticisms
Many of us feel that to criticise is to help while too much praise may spoil. Criticism or correction is of course sometimes necessary. However, without a counterbalancing measure of appreciation it can lead to a culture of constant criticism or that ‘no feedback must mean I’m doing Ok’ uncertainty. Adding diamond feedback to the mix counteracts the negative effects of necessary criticism and creates certainty about what is wanted, as well as what is not.

Be the giver of good things to those around you.
One of the hardest challenges of leadership is getting to hear the important things about the organization. You want people to feel they can tell you what you need to know to lead the organization well. The more you thank people for alerting you, telling you, bringing things to your attention and praise their bravery in doing so the more they will be inclined to do so in future.

Cherish the bringers of problems
This, of course, is another way of saying don’t shoot the messenger. Remember that when someone alerts you to a problem they are being brave, creating an opportunity to change something and are also saying they have a sense of how things could be (the dream). Consciously thank them for letting you know and ask them about how they think things could be. Try to get the conversation future facing rather than backward facing into a blame-fest (finding root causes etc. can come later).

Learn to spot the strengths of others and to forgive them for not possessing your strengths
Most of us assume that the things we find easy to do are easy to do so anyone should be able to do them. We also often assume that the way we do things is the right way to do things and all other ways of doing this thing are the wrong ways. Learn to let these two beliefs go and you will greatly increase your ability to get the best out of the people around you: find out the valuable things that they find easy to do and help them use those skills to achieve the outcomes needed.

Put yourself in situations that allow you to be your best self
Do more of what is valuable, you love doing, and are good at. Become even better at it. You will feel great and be better able to be kind, generous and supportive to those around you. Find other people to do the valuable things that you hate doing and are not good at. Find the people who are good at and love doing those valuable things. You will have two engaged and satisfied workers instead of two half content workers.