What separates the most positive leaders from those stuck in negativity? In a few words: a growth mindset.

Stanford professor Carol Dweck's famous research found that people with a growth mindset believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Brains and talent are just the starting point. "This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment," states Dweck. 

This is what describes great leaders. They understand that leadership is a self-evolved journey toward becoming better every day. On the flip side, a "fixed mindset" (according to Dweck) is the belief that one's traits are fixed and therefore cannot change. This short-sighted thinking can prevent important skill development and growth, which could sabotage your effectiveness as a leader.

Separating the positive from the negative

A fixed mindset does something else that can be potentially damaging. It opens itself up to negativity and self-sabotage instead of assuming the immense opportunity for change and transformation. 

I've worked with and for plenty of high-level managers who operated from this perspective. Negativity manifested in counterproductive behaviors like dishonesty, slander, selfishness, manipulation, and impulsivity. And the consequences led to distrust within their teams, a decrease in employee engagement, and even liability issues.

Negativity sucks energy from people and hampers productivity and performance. When persistent, a negative attitude in the workplace stifles creativity and innovation. Because of this, leaders at every level must be proactive and committed to operating from positivity.

What does that look like in practice? 

1. They know their purpose is to serve others.

Positive leaders focus on how many people they serve versus how many people serve them. They feel called to help their valued workers become better people, inspiring excellence in them personally and professionally. This means that the needs of others come first and that the team's success is a leader's claim to success. Positive leaders aspire to the demands of a higher purpose: serving their team.

2. They value others as human beings.

Leadership is a matter of the head and the heart -- it's about results and relationships. So, if you're in a leadership role now or aspiring to one, the journey toward positive leadership must be founded on valuing the people entrusted under your care by believing and trusting in them. Begin by showing respect and dignity and maintain a high view of each employee.

3. They ultimately lead through love and care.

In a world of empty promises, manipulation, and deception, positive leaders care for the well-being of others. They show commitment to advancing the best interests of those around them. The word "love" here should not be mistaken for a feeling. In a business sense, it's a verb that is packed with action. It shows up in meeting the needs of others to get results, clearing obstacles from people's paths, and empowering others to succeed. It has intrinsic value for both leader and employee. Ultimately, it's this kind of practical love and care that defines the best servant leaders.