Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Impact in Action!”

June 10, 2016

By: , Sheila Bauer

Life-changing events don’t happen often but they can have a lasting positive effect. Professor Gretchen Spreitzer teaches empowerment and thriving in the workplace. What does thriving look like? In this edition of our series on Positive Leadership that was held at the Ross School of Business, Sheila Bauer talks about how “Energizing the Positive Leader in You” had a significant and direct impact on her life.

Sheila Bauer
Events Manager (before taking the classes I was an Administrative Coordinator)
Ross Events
3.5 years at Ross

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

Honestly, I went into it without any expectations. Ross is a community that makes these types of programs available to staff pretty regularly and I attend when my workload allows for it. Our community has enabled a lot of growth and development through these types of training programs, so I just signed up blindly not knowing what I was in for!

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

Each session was very different and beneficial in their own way, which surprised me. Each session could have stood alone. Someone could attend just one of the days and walk away with something even if they didn’t attend all 6. These classes were very insightful and reflective on a personal level; not just on a professional level. They focused on finding leadership in both your personal and business life, and how it’s important to find both, which was surprising to me.

3. How do you see yourself applying what you learned in your everyday life?

These sessions were life-changing for me. I’ve applied what I learned in a very major way. It started on the day of the second session; I was already having a bad morning. I had a lot of errands to complete before 9am, I was traveling from building to building with a heavy load, and I had to take the elevator down just one floor, which felt silly to me, but I had a full cart of items that I needed to haul around with me all day. When the elevator door opened, I tried to rush in and ran into a gentleman who I’ve never seen before. He flashed me a genuine smile and said “Good morning!” This sincere greeting changed my grumpy disposition. I had no idea of who he was, but I found out as soon as I walked into class — that nice man was Professor Robert Quinn! His presentation struck a chord and I had tears in my eyes — specifically when he was talking about finding a purpose here at Ross and what that would look like. I thought I was living my life with purpose and all was well. [As an aside, he asked us to take a minute to write a brief purpose statement. When he shared with us his, I noticed that mine was identical – to inspire people to positive change!]

The following week Professor Gretchen Spreitzer talked about job crafting. We saw the video of a house cleaner at the hospital and talked about how she thrived at work. It made me ponder the question, “What moments at work have I thrived?” These two back to back sessions made me evaluate if I was truly thriving in my role and if I felt like I was fulfilling my purpose. At the time I was a member of the Administrative Core Team, I loved my role, and was with a team who valued my work. Life was good but I was living a routine that was easy. Professor Quinn and Professor Spreitzer help me recognize that I felt most alive when I provided a positive experience to groups at Ross (large scale or small scale).

A position became available in the Office of Events at the Ross School of Business. Before the program, I would have never thought that I was qualified (or even had a chance to be considered) for a position in the Office of Events. The sessions gave me the confidence to make myself into the best leader I can be and not settle for the normal routine. Professor Quinn talked about taking a risk – this was a scary leap but I felt it was the best way I could contribute to Ross. I knew the Events Director and talked to her about the position. She was so glad that I wanted to apply. And, in the end, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the position! This program was truly life changing!

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

A positive work environment is one that encourages their community to take chances and not to fall into a routine; in other words, not to settle. The people in this workplace motivate and support each other, bring out the best in each other, and challenge each other to be successful at all levels. We try new things, and share and what we learn with each other to work towards achieving great things together.


I hope that Ross offers this again so that more of my colleagues can attend. I also hope that I continue to apply the concepts I learned throughout my entire life!

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.