You Must Be Always Positive, Never Negative, Must Not You?

Louis van Gaal boos
Van Gaal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Van Gaal, an old manager of the FC Barcelona soccer team usually said: “always positive, never negative”. But does it imply less complexity always?

Mathematically, positive and negative viewpoints are equal in order to make a decision. To maximize a certain function is equal to minimize its opposite one. Reason, as other things at the physical world, is relative, as time is relative to space and space to time. A single decision maker can take advantage of both approaches. In fact, negativity is more important in our lives than many people think. A negative approach is under our survival instinct, if we do not notice that we are in danger, we could easily die.

Survival instinct can be seen as a main directive of our internal programming, that impulses us to minimize risks. A false feeling of safety can become deadly. If we analyze in deeper this behavior, we can see that its benefit is based on a positive response. Survival instinct is driving us to action.

But we usually think that being positive is better than being negative. The reason is related to external factors instead of internal ones. People with a positive attitude are perceived as people that can provide additional values to other individual, they result much more attractive. Leadership is strongly based on positive focus. Leaders always are selling the things that people want to hear, they sell benefits instead of the analysis of the problems, although only when you have identified a problem, you have got the solution.

Leadership can be seen as based on a negative approach too: leaders minimize the risk perception of the individuals at the group. It is based on the survival of the individuals of the group.

In a crisis time, people can seem less disposed to follow a positive leader and they seem to be more predisposed to pay attention to negative messages, however, those leaders are exploiting the same fact, they are showing the risks in order to present themselves as the rescuers. As usual, there is no identification of problems, only identification of risks that are subjective instead of objective, and they do not bring the solution with them.

If we look at leadership in terms of complexity, we can see that leaders propose always a less complex world for the group but they do not know how complexity can be measured, evaluated, and reduced. The existence of a leader implies itself a reduction of the uncertainty in the behavior of the group (that is a reduction of complexity), but the leader can be a source of additional complexity if his vision does not fit well reality.

Good leaders are born and made simultaneously. A lot of persons can communicate the same message of trust. For instance, it is easy to tell people, that others have stolen something, that there are a lot of things that belong to them, and that they will be able to provide them. But a vision of the future that can fit the needs and capabilities of the group and the limits imposed by the environment is more related to education, training and experience.

Leaders should be chosen through reason instead of feelings. But we must be practical, people need a leader in order to coordinate the actions a group making their lives simpler, but, in most modern organizations they do not want a leader in order that he commands them, they want a leader in order to feel better and in order that he provides them a false feeling of safety. The leader must win not only the brain of the people, they must win their hearts.

Although the negative approach can be more effective in bad times, I would suggest that we build our future with a leadership that arrives at our hearts with positive feelings, that tries to join the group instead of dividing it. As I showed at the begining, if the only value provided by a leadership based on feelings is the existence of a leader, we had better be glad instead of bitter.

A leader centered at the problem analysis instead of subjective risks should be very much appreciated by reasonable people, although their votes are not the most numerous, because when a leader is centered in the defects of the rivals, it is indicative of a lack of own solutions. Fortunately, the leaders of the private business are not usually voted by all the employees. This is a handicap of the public organizations where leaders need to be very politically correct, and in bad times, political correction can become everything but correction.


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