Leading by Example

How to bring positivity, optimism, and integrity to the workplace.

Posted Jul 17, 2017

Dr. Joyce Knudsen, used with permission
Source: Dr. Joyce Knudsen, used with permission

How does one effectively bring positivity, optimism, and integrity to the workplace? To help answer this question, I had the immense honor to interview Dr. Joyce Knudsen, an impression management consultant, influential marketer, and Twitter sensation. For many months now, I’ve been inspired by Dr. Joyce’s tweets about positivity and integrity. I was honored to have the opportunity to speak with her about this important topic. Here are some highlights from our time together.


“Positivity is a frame of mind,” Dr. Joyce says.  It’s truly a reflection of how you view the world around you. At home and at work, we should choose to have a positive mindset. When we look at the cup as half full instead of half empty, the way that we respond to colleagues, supervisors, and customers is positive, too.

Interestingly, positivity has a way of rubbing off on those around us. “A happy worker is a professional who brightens up the entire place simply by being there,” Dr. Joyce says.

As a leader, strive to create a culture of positivity. After all, “positive emotion lends itself to greater fulfillment at work,” Dr. Joyce shares. Further, “if people feel fulfilled when they are working, they’ll be better team players when you need them.”


Optimism relates very closely to positivity. “We all have our issues,” says Dr. Joyce. While the issue itself may not be in our control, how we respond to it is. “We choose to be optimistic or pessimistic.” When dealing with a difficult person at work, for instance, be grateful when you make a breakthrough and hopeful that things will be even easier the next time.

We can be optimistic without falsely assuming that the world is only filled with roses. Those who are resilient and optimistic use every experience (the good, the bad, and the neutral) to help them to get to their end goal. When you’re stressed at work, simply “reclaim your mindset to reduce that stress,” Dr. Joyce advises.

Toss your Problems in a Basket-- Literally

When Dr. Joyce first meets with a group of clients, she walks around the office with a basket and index cards. She offers each employee a card and says, “Write down everything that’s bothering you right now.” She then collects the cards. “Now I have your problems,” she tells them. “I’ve taken them away from you. If you’re so inclined, when you leave, you can pick up your problems.  I would like you to reclaim your mindset, and you can’t do that if you’re worried about something.”

Tip: This simple basket exercise is an excellent activity to do in a group setting or as an individual. Write down what’s bothering you and put it to the side. If you need to revisit it later, then do so. But, at least give yourself the chance to focus on something else for a short while. Perhaps you’ll uncover a solution to a problem if you step away from it, too.


“Bring integrity to the workplace,” encourages Dr. Joyce. “Integrity is one of the fundamental values that employers seek in the employees they hire. It’s the hallmark of a person who demonstrates sound moral and ethical principles at work.”

Managers who lead with integrity inspire others to do the same. “A person who has integrity lives his or her values in relationships with coworkers, customers, and stakeholders,” Dr. Joyce adds. Further, “people who demonstrate integrity draw others to them. They are counted on to act in honorable ways to do the right thing.” 

“Honesty and trust are essential to integrity,” says Dr. Joyce. As a leader, nurture a safe environment at work, so that employees do not avoid sharing the truth for fear of reprimand.

Celebrate as a Team

Celebrating successes is a great way to create and maintain a positive and optimistic office environment. Dr. Joyce shares that simple things like taking the team out to lunch can go a long way to build camaraderie and a happy workplace.

Let’s strive to ensure that our employees are happy and feel valued. Regularly “acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of others,” Dr. Joyce suggests. When we do this, we encourage continued positive behavior from that person and from the rest of the team.

I felt such synergy during our interview, and was truly inspired to continue to bring positivity and hope to those around me. Thank you, Dr. Joyce, for sharing your time and wisdom!

Want to learn more about Dr. Joyce? Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, and Instagram. Learn more about her book here and visit www.drjoyceknudsen.com.

Want to learn more about handling difficult people in the workplace? Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook. Read my book and visit www.amycooperhakim.com.