Business Productivity: For Executives – Attitude

“It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.” — Zig Ziglar, motivational expert

“Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right.” — Henry Ford, American industrialist

Your Attitude is your state of mind toward the world around you—the precious combination of motivation, drive, and proactiveness that help define who you are. If you want to succeed in the workplace, you need to ensure that the sum of those factors is positive, so that your Attitude can pull you forward, rather than drag you down like an anchor. You must be willing to look beyond (or around or under) the expected, and take steps toward achieving what you find there. Not only will such an outlook help you achieve the improbable on a regular basis, it’ll help you get through those inevitable times when everything looks dark and difficult.

SuperCompetents always think positively, because they’ve learned that when your reach exceeds your grasp, you can accomplish amazing things.

This remains true even when your Attitude takes you to the rarified heights of the C-Suite. Attitude is one Key that translates more or less intact from the lower management levels; the name doesn’t even change. Like all the Keys, though, at the higher elevations it grows into something more encompassing than it was before. It’s now your responsibility—and your privilege—to expand that Attitude beyond your personal space to the entire organization that you’re in charge of.

Now, the elements comprising Attitude always remain the same, no matter where you stand in the corporate hierarchy. You’ll always have to safeguard your health; relentlessly persevere; harness your personal creativity; play well with others; and maintain a positive, upbeat approach. It’s hard work, admittedly—but it’s hard work with a purpose. And it’s not going to get any easier as you rise in the company, despite a pervasive belief to the contrary. If it does, you’re probably doing something wrong.

Here’s what I mean by that. While you’ll always have people upstream and downstream from you who are affected by your Attitude in one way or another, when you’re a lower-level employee, your influence is minimal. If you twist off and don’t get a report done, it’s going to be an annoyance more than anything else; and if it’s annoying enough, you might find yourself out of a job…and that’s about as far as it’ll go.

But as you rise in power, you also rise in influence. Whether you like it or not, the people subordinate to you will be looking to you for guidance, while anyone above you will eye you with certain expectations. That’s why, when you’ve finally hit the heights, your drive to achieve personal SuperCompetence must evolve into a drive to achieve organizational SuperCompetence as well.

You’re still just one person, but your influence at the C-Suite is so substantial that a failure of Attitude can affect the whole company. Last blog, I deplored the old “le etat, c’est moi” outlook, because it can destroy a company if upper-level execs let it go to their heads. But the thing is, it’s true to some extent. As the CEO, President, VP, or Chairman of the Board, you may not be “the state” per se, but people do look to you for leadership—and you can be sure that your Attitude, whatever it may be, will be adopted by others. If you don’t maintain a positive Attitude of striving toward excellence, then others will assume that’s acceptable…which it certainly is not in a world-class organization.

Worse, even those who attempt to maintain a positive attitude may end up being dragged down by those who don’t. The result will be a toxic work environment where the best workers can’t accomplish anything and don’t stay long.

Does it sound like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? In a way, it is. It’s one of the prices you have to pay for the kind of ambition that takes you to the C-Suite in the first place. If you want to enjoy all the perks at the top, you never really get to slow down. But that’s fine; because you get to shape the organization toward your own personal vision—and one way you do it is by maintaining a strong, steady Attitude. You must remain unremittingly positive, always striving to achieve that winning outcome.



  1. […] commitment to quality obvious to the people who comprise it. As surely as spring follows winter, your attitude will influence them — whether you mean for it to or […]