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The power of leading with a high five

I am a firm believer in the importance of positive leadership. I actually despise leaders who go all Machiavellian on their organisations. Leaders who feel that it is an advantage to divide and conquer. Leaders who prefer to lead by silence and a dash of fear. Leaders who enjoy keeping their staff blind in the face of uncertainty, thinking that is the way to keep their employees on their toes.

But, surely, there is no such thing in media companies. After all, it is 2015, you would say.

Baah! Of course there is.

Actually, I am so fed up with stories of lousy management in editorial environments. Yes, we are in the midst of a structural change in the media business. Yes, this is a time in media history when our innovation skills are put to the test.

That is why it is more important than ever to encourage positive leadership, or what I personally call my own leadership style: Management by high five.

Interested in trying? It is easy. Basically, look for reasons to celebrate.

Loads of research in the cognitive area gives evidence to support the power of positive reinforcement. So, just do it.

Whenever you have a chance to celebrate a small victory, do it! Lift your right hand and give each other a high five. It is the oldest trick in the book, and it works.

Hand clapping actually releases endorphins that make you feel happy, feel better – that relax you. And I am a firm believer of the fact that happy employers dare to suggest more bright ideas.

I am also a firm believer of the fact that, in these times, when we need to reinvent ourselves in a speed faster than ever, we need more fantastic, more outstanding, more daring ideas than ever.

The chance that you as a leader, on your own, will come up with all the ideas that will lead to your company’s success today and tomorrow is – sorry – quite small, even though I’m sure you are very bright person.

You need all those people around you who dare to share their best ideas. My experience: People who are afraid, who feel they are being left out on a lot of information, who are constantly scared to be reprimanded, are not very likely to share creative ideas. Probably, after a while, the kind of leadership these people work under will quite efficiently suffocate creativity all together.

A scared employee is so busy not making a mistake, and following protocol down to the very last detail, that he or she won’t have any energy or the focus left for innovation.

So, your fast track to essential innovation, allowing you to get ahead of your competitors is management by high five any day of the week.

The next time a person in your team sets a new record or wins a small battle, salute it! Raise your right hand and say the magic spell out loud: “High five!” I promise, you will both feel better and stronger, as your hands meet in a joint winning team.

I am amazed how well it works. And best of all, it is fun too.

I’m not saying you should stop giving constructive feedback as well. Sure, you have to do that.

But what works in school should not be forgotten in media leadership as well: Two stars and a wish. Always double your positive feedback with the feedback you give on how your employee can get better.

Because it is simple: I am nothing compared with my team, with us. Start today. Raise your right hand. It is the beginning of the idea that will be your success story tomorrow.

About Frida Boisen

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