Learning strong leadership through positivity

On Thursday, Sept. 18, Dane L. Parker participated in the Leadership Lecture Series and spoke on the power of Positive Personal Leadership.

Parker began his remarks by pointing out that today’s workforce suffers from a lack of great leadership. Today there are lots of managers, but a manager is not the same as a leader. Parker defined leadership as someone people willingly follow, and explained that many people have inspirational leaders whom they’ve never met, and may never meet. Managers, often times, have a followership that is less than willing, and a leader is someone that can inspire those around him to follow without demanding loyalty.

The bulk of Parker’s remarks centered on positivity in leadership and how being a positive leader, rather than a negative leader, is infinitely more effective. He demonstrated this principle through three examples. The first was in his experience training his dog. Lots of training books required choke chains and negative reinforcement, but after looking at methods of training Orcas and other highly intelligent animals he noticed that positive reinforcement yielded more positive results.

“Picture you’re training a killer whale, and it disobeys, what do you do,” Parker asked. “You can’t put a choke chain on a killer whale, but you can ignore what the animal does wrong and praise what the animal does right.”

He related a study where three groups of students were given different types of critiques. The first group received no feedback on their assignments, the second group received only negative critiques and the third group was given only positive comments about their assignments. Initially the second and third groups maintained a similar level of improvement, however, over an extended period of time, the third group improved substantially more than the second.

Parker summed up his comments, and his thoughts on positive personal leadership in one sentence.

“One of the most powerful leadership principles is to see what is right in others.”

Dane L. Parker received a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brigham Young University. He is currently serving as the Vice President of Global Real Estate and Facilities for Dell. More information on Parker, as well as a recording of his lecture can be found here

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