Leeza Gibbons: Play Nice and Win BigBy
Emmy Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Leeza Gibbons has built a career in the fields of entertainment and news media while staying true to her values and strength: being nice. She describes her approach as “fierce optimism,” and it’s a way that leaders can build successful teams and collaborate using kindness, empathy, and respect.
SF: How do you employ gratitude and optimism as a business advantage to get ahead?
LG: Optimism is an emotional competence that allows you to be more resilient and more focused on owning your life and your choices because you believe in your own ability to make things better. Resilience is crucial to success since the only way to the top is to fall and bounce back again and again. Optimistic people see what Winston Churchill called “the opportunity in every difficulty.” Life, love, work—none of it is necessarily easy, but if you have the right worldview (optimism), you will be more proactive and persistent in times of chaos and change. That winning formula allows you to outdistance the competition.
Gratitude is a natural by-product of optimism. If you aren’t grateful for what you have, you won’t get more. Countless studies show that optimists have healthier relationships at work in addition to better mental and physical health. Whom would you rather hire?
SF: How does having positive energy affect others around you?
LG: When you are positive, others want to work with you, be around you, and try harder for you because you allow them to see what’s in it for them—the possibility of being better or doing things in a better way. An optimist will never be that person in the room saying that’s how we’ve always done it or that’ll never work. If you show people that you believe bad things are temporary but your ability to make them better is permanent, it’s irresistible.
SF: Can you share one of your greatest accomplishments as a wife, mother, and businesswoman when you stayed true to who you are and still won big?
LG: Nice doesn’t mean you’re a pushover or that you aren’t competitive. It’s just the manner in which you compete and stay strong.
From having stars request me for interviews at times when my show may not have given them the greatest exposure to getting promoted because of my “put me in coach” hard work, I have always found staying in the strength of nice to be effective. Nice people don’t sabotage others on their way up. I have had the opportunity to throw many people under the bus to get a better place in line, but my mother just didn’t raise me that way! Temporary setbacks brought about by doing things with integrity and a strong work ethic will always be overshadowed by the more lasting successes that come from staying true to your word and valuing your reputation.
I got a big loan early in my career when I didn’t yet have the financial record to justify it simply because the loan officer said he believed in my optimism and enthusiasm about my eventual success. It isn’t just me. Research shows that funding partners, financiers, and backers of all kinds are more likely to invest in you if they feel your optimistic energy.
SF: What would you say is your best quality in connecting with others, and what advice can you give to others when trying to connect or network?
LG: Empathy has consistently been the strength with my work. With interviews, for example, I always try to see first what I need to offer before I look for what I need to get. If a celebrity, newsmaker, or thought leader is sitting across from me, I always try to respect what they are bringing to that very moment as well as their lifetime of experiences. Just allowing others the space to be who they are is tremendously empowering. After seven years of hosting and producing talk shows, I saw that most of us just want to be seen for who we are, to have our experiences validated. It’s the same in any business. Your clients, customers, and employees want to know that you understand them.
Creating an environment of “we’re all in this together” is a direct path to winning. I believe in making my workmates my allies in success. It happens through letting them build their strengths while working toward a common goal. In an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” environment, it pays to be the one who goes first. Offering up ways to be of service, add value, and build trust before you ask for it is crucial. During my career, my optimism has allowed me to rehearse success by being able to see myself at the next stop on the journey.
SF: How can leaders build teams and collaborate using kindness, empathy, and respect?
LG: The good news is that optimism can be learned and practiced. It also comes with a choice to avoid career complainers. These are the folks who might say they are being the devil’s advocate, but usually they are professional whiners who will bring down you and your organization.
Highly effective leaders use their positive launch pads to help get people past being stuck because they can see an upside. When you are optimistic that good things can happen, you enhance employee morale and boost productivity. No one wants to be part of a losing team. Being kind and respectful builds loyalty, which can boost you and your organization during tough times. Optimistic employees are less likely to jump ship because you’ve allowed them to see that their personal best is yet to come. You show them your own strength through vulnerability and give them permission to feel confident of the potential for victory when moving toward future successes.
To hear more about how Leeza Gibbons employs gratitude and optimism to get ahead—and how you can, too—head to Las Vegas for IMA’s 2016 Annual Conference & Expo. Visit www.imaconference.org for more information.
Other keynote speakers at this year’s IMA Annual Conference & Expo include:
Billy Beane, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Oakland A’s
Kevin Lacz, former Navy SEAL and friend of Chris Kyle of American Sniper
Rick Arpin, Senior Vice President of Entertainment, MGM Resorts International
Mike Dinsdale, Chief Growth Officer, DocuSign, Inc.
Marianne M. Jennings, Emeritus Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies in Business, Arizona State University
Amy Lieberman, Executive Director, Insight Employment Mediation LLC
Neal O’Farrell, Executive Director, The Identity Theft Council