Leadership and The Attitude Contagion

During my active career, I used to spend a lot of time travelling for business so hotel stays for me became somewhat commonplace.  And, I experienced a variety of attitudes from hotel staff as well.

On one particular trip to Toronto, I stayed in a hotel that was, and is, a rather posh place to hang your hat so I was quite looking forward to the experience.

Even so, on arrival, I felt an unmistakable chill in the air… and it wasn’t the air conditioning. The bellman, a rather tall and portly man, looked distinctly unhappy. In truth, his attitude toward me had a whiff of disdain about it as he unlocked the door to my room and ushered me, unceremoniously, inside.  Hmmm, I thought, not a good start.

Once in the room, I realized there was no hair dryer in the bathroom.  And so I phoned housekeeping.   The Housekeeping department tersely informed me that while they would supply me with a hair dryer, I would only be allowed to keep it in my room for half an hour.  Really?

This person didn’t sound happy either.  Needless to say nor was I.

In contrast, my husband and I recently went on a short road trip to Vancouver, Washington.  We stayed at the Heathman Lodge, an upscale hotel built to blend harmoniously with the Pacific Northwest environment.

Here, we were warmly welcomed.  The hotel staff was upbeat, positive and friendly.  I saw no miserable faces, no reluctance to serve and no disdainful glances.

In the restaurant adjacent to the hotel our experience was even better.  The wait staff was more than accommodating.  And each morning at breakfast, Cecily greeted us with a cheerful smile.  Cecily exuded happiness.  She and the others, who all remained cheerful in spite of the busy breakfast period, helped us set our own moods for the day

People were happy.  And so was I.

So what’s the message here?  Well, there are a number of them but one that stands out for me is this.  Attitude is contagious.

If you are a leader, formally designated or otherwise, know that you are probably also a Chief Attitude Officer.

Simply put, that means that the atmosphere in your place of work is created largely by the attitude you bring to it.   And, as it is unlikely that anyone wants to encourage an attitude that creates unhappiness in employees and customers alike, here are a few thoughts about making positivity the contagion of choice:

Know What You Value

Being clear about what is important to us as human beings is critical to creating a kind of internal compass that guides our choices and decisions.  In the workplace, knowing what we value and doing work that aligns with those values is equally important.  If there is a misalignment of values between the leader and those who follow, then generally, a less than positive working environment is the result and poor attitudes tend to prevail.

Be Consistent

Okay so it’s one thing to be clear about our values.  It’s possibly another to demonstrate them consistently.  Like it or not, the leader is the role model.  If the leader strays from the values being espoused, it is likely that everyone else will too.  So, not only do we have to be clear about what they are and believe in them, we have to live by them and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to them as well.

Be Generous

Most businesses and organizations provide service in some form or another. And, even within organizations, everyone serves someone.  To me, generosity is the key to success in this.

Generosity is one of those things that spills over from one person to the next.  It makes sense then that if a leader’s approach to those who follow is generous in nature, that attitude will transfer to others and serve to lift the mood of everyone who comes in contact with it.

It seems simple enough doesn’t it?   But is it?  What do you think?

If you are a leader (a.k.a. Chief Attitude Officer) and believe in the power of generosity, what does it look like for you?  In your organization what values do you see at play?  Where or who do they come from? How do you use them?


Filed under Building Relationships, communication, Employee engagement, motivating & Inspiring

12 responses to “Leadership and The Attitude Contagion

  1. Leslie Robinson

    With regard to the “whiff of disdain” from the hotel porter: when my mother and I once experienced this attitude from a shop clerk in Holt Renfrew (also in Toronto), Mum told me that her grandmother used to call these sorts of people “misplaced Duchesses”.

    And, dare I say this, as a Canadian… I’m not surprised that your pleasant encounter was in the United States.

    I wholeheartedly agree that attitude is contagious. It works not only in my workplace, but with my children at home. 🙂

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Leslie,

      I love the phrase “misplaced Duchesses” It paints a very vivid picture! And, I agree that leadership, and attitude transference, is not restricted to the workplace. In fact, being a parent is probably one of the most challenging leadership assignments a person can have!

      Thanks for coming by!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Leadership & The Attitude Contagion « You’re Not the Boss of Me -- Topsy.com

  3. Gwyn – You’ve done it again with your brilliant simplicity – simply brilliant.

  4. Landon Creasy

    Great post Gwyn! For me, you’ve struck at the key difference between management and leadership. Too many of us work to develop and use “best practices” – few of which have to do with attitude.

    Attitude translates directly into morale – without it, your team will never achieve their full potential.


    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Landon,

      What I hear you saying is that it is the tendency to approach “best practices” as if they were management processes, devoid of emotion, which when replicated, should produce the same spectacular results regardless of the attitude with which they are approached.
      And, the attitude you bring to these practices can make a big difference, one way or the other.
      I certainly agree with that!

      Thanks for coming by!

  5. Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best independent business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.


    Wally Bock

    • Gwyn Teatro


      It’s always very gratifying when one of my posts is included among your Wednesday recommendations.
      Thank you very much.

  6. Attitude is very much everything… great post and great writing style you have, Gwyn!

  7. Pingback: Leadership ~ What’s Love Got To Do With It? « You’re Not the Boss of Me

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