Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Empowered with Confidence”

October 28, 2016

Negotiation calls on us to compete and cooperate to do our jobs well and achieve extraordinary results. But, the biggest challenge in a negotiation is to be strategic while also being real. Shirli Kopelman, a Professor at the Ross School of Business, argues that this duality is both possible and powerful. In Negotiating Genuinely, she teaches readers how to reconcile the disparate hats that they wear in everyday life—with families, friends, and colleagues—bringing one “integral hat” to the negotiation table.

When Casey Bufford attended the Positive Leadership Series for staff, she “resonated” with this work.  Continue reading to discover what Casey learned during these sessions.

Name: Casey Bufford
Title:  Associate Director, Sanger Leadership Center
Number of Years at Ross: 1 yr.

1. Before you attended the sessions, what did you think you were going to gain from them?

As we have such a high caliber of faculty here at Ross, I was very excited to be a student of theirs.  I’m naturally drawn to their work and topics.  I didn’t know what to expect but was eager to learn.

2. How would you explain/describe the experience of attending these sessions to a close friend or family member?

Attending these sessions gave me a new perspective and confidence.  As a female in the workplace, I truly resonated with Professor Shirli Kopelman’s presentation on negotiation.  Her information and mock case study gave me pause to think about negotiations in terms of having power – something that I had not thought of previously.  When I left this session, I felt empowered.

3. What did you take away and how do you see yourself applying what you learned into your everyday life?

 One of the biggest takeaways was the confidence to know that I have new skills for future collaborations and partnerships due to what I heard in Professor Kopelman’s session, as well as reading her book.

Another “aha” for me was hearing Professor Kim Cameron talk about the value of Positive Organizational Scholarship and how that value can enhance the bottom line.  Building a culture matters.  If we take the time to make connections with customers and those around us, productivity and performance will increase.

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

A positive work environment is one where everyone walks in with a sense of purpose — openness and transparency are in the forefront, expectations are defined, and job and role clarity are understood.  Employees are compensated appropriately and successes are celebrated.  The organization is not afraid of conflict and challenges for they present an opportunity to grow and learn.  All employees are supported for their particular role in life, whether it is as a new mother or dealing with elder care.


Professors Cameron and Kopelman’s sessions were most salient for me.  To be a student as a staff member here at Ross and pause for reflection was awesome.  It was an amazing opportunity to receive the gift of all the professors’ expertise (and the food was good, too)!

If you would like to discover how to be a more effective and positive leader, we highly recommend that you read the book How to Be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact, edited by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer.

Positive Leadership: The Staff Series is a group of interviews capturing staff reflections after participating in the Positive Leadership Workshops.