August 2017 Educate

Q&A with Author Jon Gordon

Written By: Rhina Garcia

Author and Keynote speaker Jon Gordon has traveled the nation, bringing his ideas on leadership, positivity and teamwork to various organizations. He has worked with several organizations and numerous sports teams on communication skills and building great success. His latest book, “The Power of Positive Leadership” details the importance of creating a positive workplace in order to become an effective leader.

Can you tell me where the idea for “The Power of Positive Leadership” came from?

-I’ve really been speaking a lot about positive leadership in general and that’s just the topic that I phrased in terms of positive leadership. Utilizing that term, I’ve been talking about how we have to stay positive as leaders and be our best and bring out the best in others, so I started to do a talk based on that and the response was so positive that I decided to write a book based on the subject.

What do you think makes the most effective leader?

-Positive leaders see a path forward. They see what needs to be done. They believe in the future and they believe in people, so it’s ultimately about a leader saying “This needs to be accomplished and I believe that we can do it.” That is really key. Positive leaders also rally people. They get people to join them on their mission and what they’re doing. If you’re just by yourself, you’re not a leader right? So, you have to make sure that you are someone who can get people onboard with you to go make a difference, to go work on a new project, to go invent something. Whatever it may be, that’s what positive leaders do, ultimately they change the world that way. So it’s having a vision, it’s being positive and then having great relationships with people so that you can do it together.

Can you tell me more about the analogy you use in your book about the North Star being the vision of an organization?

-Everyone needs a North Star that points them in the right direction, so that North Star serves as a vision of where everyone in the organization is moving towards. A leader would say “Hey, here’s where we’re going,” and that’s our North Star. Then, everyone sees it and then they all work together and walk together towards the North Star. So, it’s sort of the idea that if we keep this North Star in our sights and we’re always looking at it, it aligns us and moves everyone in the same direction, rather than having people going in all different directions because they don’t have the same vision. We’re always saying how communication is key.

Do you think communication is one of the most crucial parts of this positive leadership attitude?

-Oh yes, it’s everything! If you don’t make the time to communicate, then you’re not taking the time to be an effective leader. You have to be a great communicator to be a great leader. And, it’s all about making sure you’re sharing the vision, communicating with people one-on-one, communicating with teams, communicating to build relationships. Most teams actually break down because of poor communication.

For people who might be apprehensive towards this approach, what might you say to them?

I think the people that would be apprehensive would be the ones who think positive leadership is about Pollyanna. They think it’s about just not dealing with the real issues, always smiling, never confronting problems, not dealing with negativity. But that could be further from the truth. Positive leaders are all about dealing with the negativity. They’re about overcoming problems. That’s how we overcome our problems, through positive leadership. In the back of the book, I actually wrote about Pollyanna positives because I wanted to address that in a way. A lot of people have really liked that this is grounded in reality, that it’s not Pollyanna. They really like that I even say that I’m naturally negative and that I have to work on being positive. They like that because it makes it more real. Because everyone struggles with adversity, so I think the apprehension is only that, but once people understand that this is a real framework for real leadership that deals with real problems, then you get real results.

What did you learn about being a leader based on this book?

I’ve learned a lot over the last ten years. This book is a culmination of the last ten years of learning and growing myself, so in writing this book — the book only took about ten months to write — but it took really ten years to write. I would say that I’ve learned to be a more positive leader myself. I’m more of a servant leader [because] I serve my team. I learned to put them first, instead of myself first. I’ve learned to stay positive through my challenges. I’ve had many challenges and I’ve learned to stay positive through them. I’ve learned that no matter what, don’t lose sight of that North Star. No matter what you’re going through and the circumstance, don’t lose sight of that vision, and keep encouraging others along the way. It’s so important to just continue to believe in others more than they believe in themselves and to encourage others.

“No matter what you’re going through and the circumstance, don’t lose sight of that (North Star) vision, and keep encouraging others along the way.” —Jon Gordon

RHINA GARCIA is a senior journalism major at the University of Florida who is known for three things: loving coffee, being Hispanic and laughing at her own jokes. Harboring a love for all things entertainment, she hopes to one day work in the music industry as a publicist.

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