Positive Leadership Strategies

Matthew JosephBlog, Lead Better


  • Qualities of positive leadership include enthusiasm, optimism, creating unity, leading with purpose, and pursuing excellence.
  • Your attitude is your superpower in becoming a positive and effective leader.

In today’s fast-paced and rapidly changing educational atmosphere, leaders and districts need to create positive work environments for their staff. Although this is challenging for every leader, it’s critical to navigate these uncharted waters for all educators and their wellness.

Positive leadership is not a topic of conversation just because of COVID-19. It’s due to the drastic shifts we are all facing. Those shifts are reminders of just how important positive leadership strategies are.

As a leader, you directly influence the behaviors of others.

Palmer Parker is an author and educator. Through his career, he’s been an activist for issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change. He said, “a leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project on other people his shadow or his light.”

Coupling this with the current needs of schools to open up to change and new possibilities is even more paramount. During my research at Boston College, I looked at positive leadership and its impact on school culture.

Being a positive leader does not require an increase in budget or a change in school plans. Rather, it takes the courage to cultivate a team’s well-being. Click To Tweet

I learned positive leadership makes a difference in productivity, satisfaction, and happiness at work.

It also makes it easier to trust colleagues. And it becomes safer to open up to change.

Positive leadership focuses on the potential of growth with staff. It shifts from the distractions of constraints and toxic culture, and empowers people to do and be their best. It looks simple, but it’s easier said than done.

Positive leadership requires embracing positive possibilities, and leaders to deal with the criticism that goes along with it. It requires leaders to look for potential, even with challenging situations.

Being a positive leader does not require an increase in budget or a change in school plans. Rather, it takes the courage to cultivate a team’s well-being.

Below are some strategies I recommend to support you in your journey to being a positive leader.

Attitude is contagious.

Positive teams are productive teams. Confident and supportive cultures are more collaborative and creative. Ultimately, they attract hard-working, talented people.

Enthusiasm is motivational.

When you lead with a positive attitude in a supportive climate, people will go above and beyond what is necessary. When people feel appreciated, they become more confident and productive.

Positivity creates resilience.

The road to success is full of difficulties, obstacles, and challenges. When you have an optimistic perspective, those things become minor setbacks and not overwhelming morale killers. The better your attitude, the quicker you rebound. When people see your resilience, they feel braver and hardier themselves.

Optimism improves problem-solving.

Optimism allows you to see beyond the problem and recognize potential solutions. Hopeful people are less likely to wallow in frustration and discouragement.

Unity creates connected teams.

Positive leaders unite instead of divide. They can create unity, which is the difference between an average team and a great team. It starts at the top. As a positive leader, you must unify and connect to foster relationships between others.

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Positive leaders lead with purpose.

Hard work doesn’t make us tired. A lack of purpose is what makes us tired. Leaders don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we get pulled away from why we do it. Have purpose-driven goals.

Positive leaders pursue excellence.

Not satisfied with the status quo, positive leaders pursue excellence. Ask yourself, “How can I get better to make the school better? How can I make my district better? What about my staff?”

Unfortunately, leadership cannot be “fixed” just by applying a new technique. No program, policy, or project will do the trick. Instead, leaders need to rewire their leadership lenses.

Great leaders aren’t born. They’re made. Your attitude is your superpower. We have the POWER to be POSITIVE every day!

About Matthew X. Joseph, Ed.D.

Dr. Matthew X. Joseph has been a school and district leader in many capacities in public education over his 25 years in the field. Experiences such as the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation in Milford Public Schools (MA), elementary school principal in Natick, MA and Attleboro, MA, classroom teacher, and district professional development specialist have provided Matt incredible insights on how to best support teaching and learning. This experience has led to nationally publishing articles and opportunities to speak at multiple state and national events. He is the author of Power of Us: Creating Collaborative Schools and co-author of Modern Mentoring, Reimagining Teacher Mentorship. His master’s degree is in special education and his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Boston College.

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