How To Be A Positive Leader Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: How To Be A Positive Leader taps into the expertise of 17 leadership experts to show you how you can become a positive leader, who empowers everyone around him, whether at work or at home, with small changes, that compound into a big impact.

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The times of strict and intolerant leadership are over. Many employees won’t accept the old top-down approach any longer, and assert their right for proper work-life balance, be it in unions or by simply switching jobs, since by now many careers with attractive conditions are available. Some startups like Buffer or Zapier even run 100% remotely, meaning the entire team works from home – which can be anywhere in the world!

More and more, the fact that we’re all human seeps into companies and their culture – and that’s fantastic! However, for many leaders, this requires a serious switch in how they interact with people. This is where Gretchen Spreitzer‘s How To Be A Positive Leader comes in, with plenty of small, actionable changes you can make to make sure you radiate positive energy and give power to those around you (whether you’re a manager leading a team, or not).

These ideas are especially powerful for team leaders, but can also change the way you interact with your family and friends! Here are 3 great lessons from the book:

  1. Have more high-quality connections by giving people your full attention.
  2. Connect to those, who benefit from your work, to see its meaning.
  3. Stay true to your ethical code with one simple question.

Let’s lead those around us, shall we? Here we go!

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Lesson 1: Have more high-quality connections by giving people your full attention.

The bigger your brain, the more social you are. Did you know that? No wonder then, that humans have evolved to be the most social species on the planet. We thrive on social interactions, and the more good ones we have, the more confident, energetic and therefore creative we are.

If your workplace is a hub of high-quality connections – exchanges between two people, where both of them leave feeling more energized – the business is likely to thrive, because people work at their best. For example, if you feel tired after lunch, but talk about yesterday’s soccer game with a colleague, who’s equally passionate about it, that high-quality connection will give you more energy and make you feel better.

Great companies try to maximize the number of these positive encounters, to maximize their capacity to innovate. Google does this, for example, with a great, free cafeteria, where people can hang out, eat well and chat.

To be a good leader, you should help others have more of these connections, starting with your own.


Simple. The next time you talk to a co-worker or family member, give them your full attention. Turn your phone silent, put it away, and just listen. Don’t look at your computer or gaze out the window. Be all there, really try to understand and be helpful.

The difference will show.

Lesson 2: Show yourself that your work has meaning, by connecting with those, who benefit from it.

Nothing motivates us more than seeing the impact of our work. When you know that the work you do means something, that it changes people and helps them live better lives, you’re much more excited to get out of bed in the morning.

For example, when students, who worked at a University of Michigan call center, and had to call alumni for donations, talked to a former scholarship holder before work, their motivation, effort and results (=donations received) increased significantly.

However, it’s important to connect with the end user of your product. For example, my Dad’s company sells industrial adhesives, which are then used by, say, car manufacturers to fix damping materials in the interior trim. If their chemists in the lab met a happy car owner, who told them that he loves how silent the inside of his car is, when he drives around, that’d be a much better motivator than talking to the supply chain manager of the car manufacturer.

Try to find someone, who ultimately benefits from your work the most, and connect with them. Then, make sure you introduce your co-workers, and help them do the same, so you can all wake up excited for work tomorrow!

Lesson 3: Ask yourself one simple question to stay true to your ethical code.

You and I have hundreds of opportunities to behave immorally every day. We could get away with semi-legal, even illegal things, on a regular basis. Yet, most of us don’t, because we have an ethical code. We all want to be seen as good people, who make the right decisions, and shoplifting just doesn’t fit into that picture.

As morals become more and more important, especially in consumer products, like food and clothes, this desire spills over into companies, whose employees want their leaders to be ethical as well. If your boss acts ethically, this has many benefits for you and all of his staff.

For one, the reciprocity bias makes us treat others well, when we’re treated well. What’s more, we see those, who lead us, as role models, and want to imitate their good behavior.

Whether you’re in charge of the marketing team at Coca-Cola, your two daughters, or your local book club, you can always make sure you stay true to your ethical code by asking yourself this one, simple question for all your decisions:

Would I be okay, if the consequences of my decision would be published on the front page of The New York Times tomorrow?

How’s that for a measure for integrity? Not bad, huh? If you’re comfortable with whatever you decide landing in one of the world’s biggest newspapers, chances are, it passes the test of what the world will deem as “the right thing to do”.

How To Be A Positive Leader Review

The summary didn’t address this, but I could instantly see that all of the suggested changes can be transferred right into your personal life. That makes How To Be A Positive Leader a book, that is not just for corporate managers and leaders with thousands of followers, but for everyone. Since it’s a compendium, it stays fresh and engaging, without beating one idea to death. If you want to make those around you smile more, this is the book for you 🙂

Who would I recommend the How To Be A Positive Leader summary to?

The 19 year old, who often looks at her phone, or even texts, while talking to others, the 64 year old factory worker, who’s never personally met a customer of the product he creates, and anyone who’s been in a moral dilemma before and found it really hard to make a decision.

Last Updated on July 29, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!