Former Microsoft Europe Chairman Launches New Book The Positive Leader

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Jan Mühlfeit, former Chairman of Microsoft Europe, has this week released a new book, The Positive Leader, geared at helping the business leaders of tomorrow succeed. In his book, Mühlfeit shares his lessons learned from using positive psychology as an enabler, transforming him into a 'postive leader' by embracing people’s strengths and passions to help them thrive and excel.

Jan Mühlfeit, former Chairman of Microsoft Europe, has this week released a new book, The Positive Leader: How Energy and Happiness Fuel Top-Performing Teams (published by FT Publishing), geared at helping the business leaders of tomorrow succeed.

Those attending the launch event, which took place on Monday, 28th November 2016 at the Imperial College Business School in London, heard that success in a world where burnout and stress are commonplace can be a “daunting prospect”.

"Stress is rooted in an obsession our world has with fixing weaknesses rather than building on strengths, to make successful leaders," he said.

"This instant, 24/7 world gives us no chance to relax our minds or bodies, meaning we are often running on low battery with no opportunity to recharge."

Sustainable success comes when individuals are passionately engaged and positively inspired by what they are doing, Mühlfeit told the 80-strong crowd.

One study by the American Institute of Stress suggests that as many as one million people miss work per day due to burnout. As a result, aspiring business leaders are often put off from trying too hard to climb up the career ladder due to fear of being overwhelmed by the pressures.

Technology has made the world smaller, and mobile devices keep everyone increasingly interconnected. The smartphone has evolved into a pocket-sized office, and even watches are now programmed to keep us constantly bridged with information, entertainment and communication at any given time, said Mühlfeit.

"As a result, our mindset has grown accustomed to the “have it now” mentality, a culture that is constantly tuned in, whose demands are shaped by the availability of everything, only a click away," he said.

The effects of burnout are real, Mühlfeit added. It has been estimated to be costing the global economy around 255 billion GBP annually due to factors like decreased productivity and compensation costs. The World Health Organization even predicts a stress burnout pandemic within a decade.

Job burnout is a special type of stress – a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about an individual's competence and the value of their work. It can not only impact an organisation’s costs, but also employee health and wellbeing.

Mühlfeit, who worked at Microsoft for 22 years, was himself swept away by the chaos of the contemporary business world before he eventually crashed from exhaustion and wound up in a mental hospital diagnosed with clinical depression. Like many other burnt out professionals before him, he felt trapped by his own success and struggled to see a way out.

The solution for burnout and other modern leadership challenges lies in positive psychology.

This relatively young scientific field offers hopeful guidance for out-of-balance leaders, and puts the spotlight on unlocking the full potential of our strengths and doing what individuals love, not slogging away on the areas where they can, at best, only be average.

In conjunction, it encourages individuals to manage energy, rather than time, to enable a better work-life balance. Good energy management involves thinking more holistically and taking care of all four sources of human energy – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Through his leadership experiences, Mühlfeit learned that positive psychology is an enabler, and that by embracing it he could capitalise on people’s strengths and passions to help them thrive and excel.

“In an era of heightened global activity, increasing workloads and frenetic change, so many leaders are on a path to burnout and risk losing their teams along the way,” said Mühlfeit.

“The positive leadership approach is about giving leaders and their teams the tools they need to find greater purpose and enjoyment in their work, which in turn drives the results they want in the marketplace.

“It is possible to be both happy and successful, for leaders and their teams alike. Success doesn’t always have to come at a cost and leaders can accomplish wins across the board.”

For more information on The Positive Leader: How Energy and Happiness Fuel Top-Performing Teams by Jan Mühlfeit and Melina Costi, visit

This title is available at all good bookshops and via and


More information on the authors

Jan Mühlfeit is a global strategist, executive coach and mentor. He is the former Chairman of Microsoft Europe and a seasoned ICT industry veteran, having served 22 years at the high-tech giant.

Jan specialises in leadership coaching, helping prominent individuals and organisations from business, academic, political and sports backgrounds tap into their strengths to deliver exceptional performance.

He is currently an ’entrepreneur in residence’ at INSEAD and a coach for Executive MBA students at Cambridge University, as well as a Business Advisory Board Member of the Imperial College Global Online MBA.

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Melina Costi is a professional business writer with a background in marketing management.

She is co-author (with Chris Griffiths) of the Amazon bestseller GRASP The Solution and works closely with global training and software provider OpenGenius.

Melina holds a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Business Studies from City University, London.

Besides her writing work, she provides academic support services for adult students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

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