On Leadership and The Attitudes for Success

Positive Attitude

Attitudes are the very essence of a person’s relative success or failure on a human relationship basis. In most cases, someone with a bad attitude will struggle much harder for success at almost every level than someone with a good attitude.

With this being the case, we must understand these 3 crucial elements of attitudes:

  • What an attitude is
  • How it manifests itself
  • How others may perceive it       

What is an Attitude?

One dictionary definition of an attitude is this:

A complex mental state involving beliefs, feelings, values and dispositions to act in certain ways.”  

Or put another way, an attitude is the way we exhibit our feelings and concerns about something in which we we strongly believe.

The issue is not so much the fact that we have strong feelings about certain things. The problem is that when we feel challenged, we might react in a way that is repugnant to others, causing them to react negatively to us.

On Attitude and Your Brand

Most of us have a bad attitude from time to time. However, when we maintain an attitude that others find socially or emotionally unacceptable, our attitude becomes our personal brand.

At that point, we become THAT person…” the one with the perennially bad attitude.”

When people begin to say things about us such as, “I don’t like his attitude” or “she is a good worker but she has a bad attitude,” the time has come for us to consider whether our attitude is working for us or if, perhaps we should consider changing it.

Holding On to the Past

Many of us hang on to bad attitudes as a defense mechanism.

Just as some people are known for a loud laugh or a quick temper, others are known for a bad attitude. Just as those people who laugh too loud when they find something funny or get angry immediately that they feel threatened, others exhibit a distant, dark, unfriendly or aloof attitude when a certain stimulus invades their mind.

When those unapproachable, standoffish or superior people are faced with a situation that makes them uncomfortable they immediately adopt their well-nurtured attitude in order to avoid the situation or to repel those who might make them even more uncomfortable.

Most people with bad attitudes are not truly bad human beings.

They are simply people who have trouble reacting in a universally palatable manner in some situations. When faced with an uncomfortable situation, the area of the brain that controls the neural pathways that form external responses in these people sets up an irresistible need to exhibit an outward presentation that will protect them from harm.

So deeply are these responses ingrained in the minds of these people that without even thinking, they will almost automatically exhibit a bad attitude whenever they sense or expect discomfort. They have little or no control at that point and the only way that they will ever be able to overcome their bad attitude response is through deliberate and consistent self-awareness and self-actualization.

They will need to retrain their brains to allow a better response; (a good attitude.)

Many bad attitudes are because of conditional self-talk.

The bad attitude response might be a result of past situations that the person found negative and emotionally hurtful. They might often find themselves thinking negative self-talk.

Some of that self-talk might include thoughts such as these:

  •  “I am not good enough”
  • “I can’t do this”
  • “They don’t like me”
  • “They don’t respect me”
  • “I don’t want to be here”

or any number of other things that people feel when put into situations where they might lack confidence.

When the bad attitude has been part of their behaviour make-up for a very long time, they will no longer need to experience the negative self talk in order to respond negatively.

The situation alone will be adequate to set off the negative behaviour response.

Negative attitudes can also be triggered by fear, hatred, envy, jealousy, distrust and a myriad of other stimuli.

Those attitudes however, are usually confined to a specific source of discomfort and only rear their heads when an individual encounters something that they immediately find truly distasteful, frightening or unacceptable.

Many people often exhibit a very good attitude most of the time and only show a bad attitude when confronted with an unusually unnerving situation.

Those people who have a generally bad attitude and want to do something about it must firstly accept that their attitude is impacting those around them and that it is harming their personal growth and development in one way or another.

Many people spend a good deal of time thinking and saying things like this:

  • “I don’t need anyone else”
  • “You don’t have to like me to work with me”
  • “As long as I do my job my attitude shouldn’t matter

and various other ideas that justify their negative attitudes. Before any improvement can begin, those people must accept that a huge part of every good work or personal relationship is a compatible, flexible and generally acceptable attitude.

The Attitudes for Success

When a person has finally come to the conclusion that they need to change their attitude, they must accept that it might take hard work and that it will not happen overnight. They should consult with those around them in order to find out what it is about them that others do not like.

They should ask co-workers, bosses, friends and family members how they truly are perceived and then listen to the responses without interruption. They need to keep an open mind and allow their ego’s to take a back seat as they hear some potentially very hurtful information about themselves.

Only people who genuinely want to change will make it past this step.

Committing to Success

If they make it past the ego-damaging last step, they must make a commitment to themselves to do something else. Essentially, when they feel their brain telling them to react in a negative fashion, they need to do the opposite. Instead of frowning, they need to smile.

Instead of whining they need to cheer. Instead of being aloof they need to show engagement.

These changes in presentation and thought seldom happen immediately, but when a person makes a decision to improve and works hard at it, success and happiness usually follow shortly thereafter.

Do you have a bad attitude? Do something about it now!

Do you know someone with a bad attitude?  Do something about it, by talking to them and letting them know that you are there to listen and help in any way you can.

Attitude Matters!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Wayne Kehl

Wayne Kehl is President and CCO at Dynamic Leadership Inc
He is author and behavioral analyst who lectures on leadership and motivation
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | DISC

Image Source:  chosenvessel26.files.wordpress.com

L2L Contributing Author


  1. Greg Gauthier on November 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Nice article Wayne. You lay out the situation and science behind attitude quite well. The fix for self-talk that’s inconsistent with the desired behavior is affirmations. Behavior is a result if beliefs we hold of ourselves and repeated first-person present tense statements depicting the desired behavior will rewrite new healthier beliefs into the subconscious (the limbic system of he brain) where our self image resides.and then we’ll act in accordance with them for different results..

  2. billbroc on November 8, 2013 at 8:27 pm