Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Modeling the Behavior”

July 29, 2016

By: , Geordie Calhoun

Learning opportunities come in a variety of ways. Staff at the Ross School of Business were given a rare and unusual learning opportunity when the faculty taught a series of classes on “Energizing the Positive Leader in You.”

In one of Professor Gretchen Spreitzer’s articles, thriving is defined “as the psychological state in which individuals experience both a sense of vitality and learning.” As we continue our series on Positive Leadership, find out why Geordie Calhoun, one of our Desktop Support Specialists, described these sessions as “uplifting.”

Geordie Calhoun
Desktop Support Specialist Intermediate
Number of Years at Ross: 14

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

I’m attending classes in IT management and, because I have worked with these faculty and am somewhat familiar with their work, I expected the sessions to provide insight into the leadership process. Attending the class with my manager was an added bonus, as he helped me to see what staff might be looking for in a leader.

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

The first word that comes to mind is “uplifting.” The sessions provided an opportunity to be introspective and offered tools to help motivate me. These tools were not for managers to use on those in positions below them. However, if a person models the behavior, it is possible for a trickle-down effect to happen to others in the department. For example, if a manager is negative, they will not be effective. If, on the other hand, a manager is happy (and truly believes and shows that) then their actions have the possibility of affecting others and is more inclined to produce a good outcome.

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

The tools provided in the sessions helped me and my outlook–to stay focused, on track, and to maintain a positive attitude. If I’m going to lead others, I need to believe in what I’m doing before I can convince others to follow. I also need to make sure that my life is aligned with my principles. For example, if I am on a diet and I decide to have a candy bar one day, that can perpetuate to every day having a candy bar and pretty soon I’ve lost my focus. I want to keep the end goal at the forefront of my mind by remembering the importance of working out and watching what I eat, because it is very easy to get off track and stay off!

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

A positive work environment is one where we are all working together for a common goal. In my department, that means keeping tickets down [tickets are part of a charting system for tracking those requesting IT help]. We don’t want customers to have to wait an extended time for help. This environment promotes more time together as a team rather than as individuals. When something happens to one of us, everyone else chips in to reduce the stress. We all need to have a safe place to express negative feelings; however, it is important not to stay in that place and redirect our feelings to the positive side.


It was most exciting to be in a class with everyone I knew–both faculty and staff!

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.