What is Attitude?

Hello everybody,

Stephanie (My Nut Share)
Stephanie (My Nut Share)

ever felt pleased when someone told you ‘I love your attitude’? I did, absolutely. However, I did not really know what my ‘Attitude’ exactly is. So, I thought I will need to find out. Here is what I found:

 What is Attitude?

A Definition of ‘Attitude’ by Business Dictionary: “A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli). Four major components of attitude are (1) Affective: emotions or feelings. (2) Cognitive: belief or opinions held consciously. (3) Conative: inclination for action. (4) Evaluative: positive or negative response to stimuli.

OK, so, this is a lot …  let’s get a bit more into this.

Eagly and Chaiken (1993, 1) defined attitude as “..a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favour or disfavour”. This means when a certain event is happening you will react (think, feel, behave) in a certain way.  This reaction or more the way HOW you are going to react is influenced by a more positive or slightly negative favour of reaction.

OK, so let’s look into the reactions (think, feel, behave) into a bit more detail with some examples:

Thinking: This is the cognitive component, i.e. what we believe and / or know about a certain event.

Example: I think elevators are dangerous, because the space is limited inside an elevator, it goes up to incredible heights and I have to trust in mechanics and technology.

Feeling: This is the affective component, i.e. the feelings and / or emotions we have about a certain event.

Example: I feel anxious when I have to use an elevator.

Behaving: This is the behavioral (or conative) component, i.e. the way we behave or act.

Example: I’d rather choose the stairs or I get sweaty hands and feel anxious when  I have to use an elevator.

Why does Attitude matter?

To answer this question I want to quote a page I just found and, which I think brings the whole thing to the point. Here we go:

A Good Attitude Is The Mother Of Success. Your attitude determines how you’ll be in a future situation, independent of the circumstances that present themselves. If you have a “go-getter”, positive attitude at work, then you’ve decided before circumstances present themselves that you’re going to come out on top. This powerfully shapes how you encounter different situations. The locus of control is within you, not your environment. You’ve predetermined the outcome even before the game has begun.” (For more check out: http://www.positive-thinking-principles.com/what-is-attitude.html)

Having an internal Locus of Control means you believe to be responsible for your actions and the outcomes of those. Things do not happen to you or are results of luck or destiny  (this would be an external Locus of Control) but you make the things happen! A rule of thumb indicates ‘Your success depends 10% on what happens to you and 90% on how you react’.

With this been said – let’s take action and let’s make things happen!

P.S. I DON’T hate elevators 😉

Poor Performance – Beyond Lacking Ability and Motivation


in recent posts I talked about talent, potential and performance. As it has been said already job performance occurs in different stages and with different focus (task performance etc.). To see my other posts around this idea please check the category ‘talent’. Business Dictionary defines performance as ‘The accomplishment of a given task measured against present known standards of accuracy, complexness, cost and speed. In a contract, performance is deemed to be the fulfilment of an obligation in a manner that releases the performer from all liabilities under the contract’.

Well, this definition is quite technically and heavily focussing on task performance – how to perform in executing one task. Further research findings around ‘performance’ were pretty often in line with the model of MindTools – developed from ‘Developing Managament Skills’ by Whetten & Cameron, 2011. This model states:

Performance = Ability x Motivation

With ability being defined as a ‘person’s aptitude, as well as the training & resources supplied by the organisation’ and motivation defined as the ‘product of desire and commitment’.

Facts are:

  1. Ability and motivation are definitely important factors of performance.
  2. Performance is an absolutely essential measure of each company – no matter the company’s size.
  3. Individual’s performance can impact organisational performance.
  4. Many companies prefer focusing on good performance rather than negative performance.

Ability and motivation are important and regarding the fact that many companies are not keen or don’t have the financial resources to focus on too much employee development and training it is essential that abilities and motivation are in place. However, I don’t think this can’t be it. During selection processes we focus mainly on ‘who to select (in)’ – who is the right match for our company / role – whom to pick.

But when we review the impact individuals performance has on a whole team or even organisation shouldn’t we focus more on the parts that trigger poor or even negative performance? Shouldn’t these factors be at least as important as the ‘good’ factors? Shouldn’t we also focus on who to ‘select-out’? Whom to let go?

HR Zone states that good performance does occur on 3 levels:

  1. Relationships between individuals and their boss
  2. Relationships between individuals and their team
  3. Relationships between individuals and their wider organisation

I absolutely like this wider idea of performance. As it does say a lot about the underlying behaviours that form the relationships. Behaviour and soft skills are somehow developable as well as ability is somehow trainable and flexible. Motivation can somehow be increased through external factors like money and other rewards. But shouldn’t we focus on what motivates an individual from the insight? What are the internal motivators? Where does intrinsic motivation comes from? What are the underlying personality traits that form the person’s behaviour, thinking style and finally motivates a person?

In all these definitions above I miss the personality part of performance. Especially the parts that could lead to derailment and contra productive work behaviour which definitely can impact performance – negatively. The relationship levels give a first, nice indication about how people behave in contact with others but to get a real picture of this they must already be employed.

One of my favourite books  is ‘Why CEO’s Fail: The 11 Behaviours That Can Derail Your Climb to The Top & How to Manage Them’ by Dotlich & Cairo (2003). CEO’s who are obvisouly top performers by definition – how else could they have climbed up to the company’s top – are mainly not failing because of lacking ability or motivation. CEO’s mainly fail because of derailment, contra productive workplace behaviour. The  11 described behaviours like e.g. arrogance, mischievousness,  and perfectionism are formed by underlying maladaptive personality traits. Let’s just summarise – an individual’s performance can influence the performance of the whole company. How big also could be the potential damage when a CEO is not performing appropriately but is rather performing bad? Not bad in the definition of not hitting targets or not setting a vision but in influencing others negatively? Shouldn’t we focus, besides ability and motivation, on personality too? Personality traits are stable and unchangeable. This means we can’t change them with training or development. Shouldn’t we pay more attention to ‘whom select out’ in our selection processes rather than ‘who has the ability and motivation to perform’? Isn’t personality a main factor? Aren’t people the most valuable asset of each company? Aren’t people the ones who interact with your customers and who sell your products? So, why is the measurement of so called ‘maladaptive workplace behaviour’ not mandatory in selection processes?  So many companies use psychometrics like personality testing for their early stage selection process but focus in doing so mainly on the desirable traits they would like to select in rather the negative traits they would like to select out. Quite a few companies are not happy to admit that they do have low performers and are less happy to take action. I guess this is something that should be changed. What are your thoughts about this topic? How do you measure performance? I’m absolutely keen to get to know your view.