The Power of a Positive Team The Power of a Positive Team

The Power of a Positive Team
21 Dec 2018

The Power of a Positive Team By Jon Gordon

By Jon Gordon

The book, like its title, is all about positivity. Only sometimes it can go a bit far. Like an over-excited puppy with its tail in its mouth, Jon Gordon’s latest book goes round and round, but gets nowhere fast.

Although apparently he has “become someone that leaders call when they need help developing high-performing and winning teams”, he fails to clarify how he assists them in doing so. Instead, the book brims over with overexcited words - everything is “powerful” or “amazing”, “ energised” or “passionate”, although the pre-fix “deeply” is added now and then for gravitas.

The author also appears to see things in black or white: “Are you going to be a germ to your team or a big dose of vitamin C?” he asks on page 21. He talks about “positive dogs and energy vampires” on page 66, and people are either “on the bus” or not. Realism is not on the menu here.

Instead, it is a relentless mantra of the positive. For example, “life is filled with challenging circumstances, but you can rise above them. Life is hard, but you are strong”, and the like. But there is no whisper of how to achieve such a confident attitude.

As for the hitherto rather unclear link to teams, that is revealed on page 60: “Your company might be facing challenges, but you and your team can work positively and powerfully together.”

Eradicating negativity

To be fair, the author does make some nice suggestions. For example, he proposes doing 1% better each day as it makes improvement feel possible. But even this statement relies on the assumption that the organisational culture and structure will allow you to do this, or that such efforts will be valued, recognised and harnessed.

For those that consistently fail to fit in due to their negativity, however, Gordon outlines how to get rid of them. In fact, on page 69, he indicates that one individual “documented and documented and documented her efforts (which she had to do for legal and personal reasons)”. In the end, he continues “she had to let them off the bus,” which seems a rather platitudinous way to say they were fired. 

Building on how to eradicate negativity though, the author suggests telling people: “It’s not okay to be moody”. He also recommends implementing ‘no complaining’ rules, and on page 84 even advocates setting “a daily call at noon where a team leader or team member shares an inspirational message”. Whether such approaches are either realistic or desirable in all, or even most, organisations is, of course, open to debate.

But despite all of this, Gordon then goes on to describe teams as being a “family” – even though organisations and teams are patently not families. For example, it is not possible to fire family members as previously recommended - and employees know that.

So in summary, for those wanting a dose of positivity that is devoid of substance or direction, this book is a pleasant diversion and contains some nice motivational phrases and slogans. But simply ensuring you “look inside yourself and look at your team and decide to change the world inside out” is sadly not going to cut it. In short, this book is every bit as vacuous as the author’s last one, the very similar ‘The Power of Positive Leadership’.

Mark Northway

Mark Northway is director and courses co-ordinator at Deltic Training, which provides strategic administration and business management courses and accredited qualifications. He is a former director and trustee of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), a chief IAM examiner and a Princes Trust Award winner for his role in business mentoring in the UK.

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The Power of a Positive Team By Jon Gordon

By Jon Gordon

The book, like its title, is all about positivity. Only sometimes it can go a bit far. Like an over-excited puppy with its tail in its mouth, Jon Gordon’s latest book goes round and round, but gets nowhere fast.

Although apparently he has “become someone that leaders call when they need help developing high-performing and winning teams”, he fails to clarify how he assists them in doing so. Instead, the book brims over with overexcited words - everything is “powerful” or “amazing”, “ energised” or “passionate”, although the pre-fix “deeply” is added now and then for gravitas.

The author also appears to see things in black or white: “Are you going to be a germ to your team or a big dose of vitamin C?” he asks on page 21. He talks about “positive dogs and energy vampires” on page 66, and people are either “on the bus” or not. Realism is not on the menu here.

Instead, it is a relentless mantra of the positive. For example, “life is filled with challenging circumstances, but you can rise above them. Life is hard, but you are strong”, and the like. But there is no whisper of how to achieve such a confident attitude.

As for the hitherto rather unclear link to teams, that is revealed on page 60: “Your company might be facing challenges, but you and your team can work positively and powerfully together.”

Eradicating negativity

To be fair, the author does make some nice suggestions. For example, he proposes doing 1% better each day as it makes improvement feel possible. But even this statement relies on the assumption that the organisational culture and structure will allow you to do this, or that such efforts will be valued, recognised and harnessed.

For those that consistently fail to fit in due to their negativity, however, Gordon outlines how to get rid of them. In fact, on page 69, he indicates that one individual “documented and documented and documented her efforts (which she had to do for legal and personal reasons)”. In the end, he continues “she had to let them off the bus,” which seems a rather platitudinous way to say they were fired. 

Building on how to eradicate negativity though, the author suggests telling people: “It’s not okay to be moody”. He also recommends implementing ‘no complaining’ rules, and on page 84 even advocates setting “a daily call at noon where a team leader or team member shares an inspirational message”. Whether such approaches are either realistic or desirable in all, or even most, organisations is, of course, open to debate.

But despite all of this, Gordon then goes on to describe teams as being a “family” – even though organisations and teams are patently not families. For example, it is not possible to fire family members as previously recommended - and employees know that.

So in summary, for those wanting a dose of positivity that is devoid of substance or direction, this book is a pleasant diversion and contains some nice motivational phrases and slogans. But simply ensuring you “look inside yourself and look at your team and decide to change the world inside out” is sadly not going to cut it. In short, this book is every bit as vacuous as the author’s last one, the very similar ‘The Power of Positive Leadership’.

Mark Northway

Mark Northway is director and courses co-ordinator at Deltic Training, which provides strategic administration and business management courses and accredited qualifications. He is a former director and trustee of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), a chief IAM examiner and a Princes Trust Award winner for his role in business mentoring in the UK.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Leading with emotional courage

Lean Six Sigma for leaders

The power of company culture