The PNR (Positive to Negative Ratio)


Positive Leadership in Project Management


By Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow

New York, NY, USA



We all know that there are many leadership styles in the business world and what works for one leader may not work for another. In any case, and in any organization, leaders must be aware of how they interact with people, especially their subordinates, and continuously monitor how people react to the leader’s personal style and behaviors. Most people, when asked about the characteristics of an effective leader, mention the following traits or skills: Effective communicator, ability to motivate, establishes a clear vision, works at a high energy level, highly trustworthy, displays passion,  shows dedication to the team, has the ability to work effectively with people, and so on.  These are all traits commonly associated with leadership.

In my search for information about leadership, I found something else that can have a significant impact on the people who report to leaders: The PNR or positive to negative ratio.  The PNR is described in an article entitled “The Impact of Positive Leadership” by Tom Rath, co-author of the book “How Full is Your Bucket?” The article focuses on the typical positive and negative interactions an employee may encounter on any given day. The PNR is the ratio of bad or unpleasant interactions to the good or positive interactions. An unbalanced ratio can lead to the loss of key employees. The manager should therefore be aware of his or her contribution to the PNR. As Tom Rath states, “ Unless you are actively working, today and every day, to make sure your employee has more positive interactions, you may soon have a disengaged employee on your hands—or worse, you could lose one of your best people.

For the project manager, the PNR, which appears to be connected to, or part of the subject “Emotional Intelligence”, is a factor that must be considered in the course of day to day managerial and leadership activities. Take a good look at your style and how you interact with your project team. What is the PNR? Consider your first hour of work yesterday or today. How many of your interactions were positive and how many were negative? Here’s an example of a negative interaction:

You have a meeting scheduled for 9pm. One of your key project team members is ten minutes late, and when he arrives and takes his seat you make a comment like, “Well, I guess we can get started now.”

This type of comment is fairly common in many organizations and considered by many as “acceptable sarcasm.” This is definitely a negative interaction. How often do you or others on your team make these types of comments? Probably more than you realize. Here’s another:


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Editor’s note: This article is one in a series on Positive Leadership in Project Management is by Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow, popular speaker and author of books on leadership in project management published by Wiley and IIL in the United States. Frank is widely known as the originator of the International Project Management Day, the annual celebrations and educational events conducted each November by PMI members, chapters and organizations around the world.

How to cite this paper: Saladis, F. (2019). The PNR (Positive to Negative Ratio): Positive Leadership in Project Management, series article 2. PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/pmwj84-Aug2019-Saladis-the-PNR-positive-leadership-series-article2.pdf



About the Author

Frank P. Saladis

New York, USA




Frank P. Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow is a Consultant and Instructor / Facilitator within the project management profession and has over 35 years of experience in the IT, Telecom Installation and IT Project Management training environment. He is a senior consultant and trainer for the International Institute For Learning Inc. and has been involved in the development of several project management learning programs. Mr. Saladis has held the position of Project Manager for AT&T Business Communications Systems, National Project Manager for AT&T Solutions Information Technology Services and was a member of Cisco Systems Professional Services Project Management Advocacy Organization. His responsibilities included the development of Project Management Offices (PMO) and the development of internal training programs addressing project management skills and techniques.

He is a Project Management Professional and has been a featured presenter at the Project Management Institute ® Annual Symposiums, Project World, PMI World Congress, CMMA, and many PMI Chapter professional development programs. He is a past president of the PMI New York City Chapter and a Past-President of the PMI ® Assembly of Chapter Presidents. Mr. Saladis is a Co-Publisher of the internationally distributed newsletter for allPM.com, a project management information portal, and a contributor to the allPM.com project management website.

Mr. Saladis is the originator of International Project Management Day and has written numerous leadership and project management related articles. Mr. Saladis is also the author of the Project Management Workbook and PMP ® / CAPM ® Exam Study Guide that supplements Dr. Harold Kerzner’s textbook – Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling?, 9th Edition published by John Wiley & Sons and the author of Positive Leadership in Project Management, published by IIL Publishing. He is a member of the International Executive Guild and the NRCC Business Advisory Council. He has also held the position of Vice President of Education for the Global Communications Technology Specific Interest Group of PMI ® and holds a Master’s Certificate in Commercial Project Management from the George Washington University. Mr. Saladis received the prestigious Lynn Stuckenbrook Person of the Year Award from the Project management Institute in 2006 for his contributions to the organization and to the practice of project management.  He can be contacted at saladispmp@msn.com