“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.” “And freezing.” “Is it?” “Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” – A. A. Milne
An academic thought, science and philosophy on optimism confirms that a person who demonstrates the attitudes, beliefs and actions of an optimist will live longer, be happier and healthier than a person who does not.
So Why Is It That Optimists Make Better Leaders?
Optimists demonstrate the behaviors and attitudes that support good leadership. Listed below are the 8 reasons why optimists are better leaders.
- Optimists want to solve problems and improve the situation they are in. They will always focus on finding a solution rather than analyzing the issues surrounding the problem.
The key questions an optimistic leader will ask when seeking a solution are: What is needed? (Not; what is wrong?). What it [sic] going well? (Not: what is going badly?). What practical progress can be made to work toward implementing the solution? How can we measure that the solution is working?
- Optimists do better than pessimists because their coping strategies are better. They are more resilient and able to quickly “bounce back” from failure and setbacks in life.
An optimist is a risk-taker and is comfortable making tough decisions. They accept the reality of a failure and the possibility of making mistakes. An optimist will view failure or mistakes as an opportunity to learn and to make progress. They see failure and set backs in the workplace as a part of life. An optimistic leader is quick to respond and adapt to the situation at hand. They will want to get their teams moving forward and back on track as quickly as possible.
Optimists do not seek scapegoats or play the blame game. If mistakes are made they will want to know what went wrong and what could be done differently to avoid making the same mistakes.
- Optimists get their energy from people. They are good at creating and keeping long-term relationships. Optimists are comfortable communicating and sharing their desires for a better future or for better solutions.
Optimists understand the importance of engaging and motivating others. They have a commitment to succeed and will speak from the heart rather than using data, reports or research to back them up. To be a good leader you need to be a good communicator and effective at engaging others to share in your vision of the future.
- Psychologists have found that optimists are less likely to be controlled by the “Regency Effect”. This s a psychological term that states that the most recent experiences we go through are the ones that we remember. We assume that these experiences will continue in the future. For example if an organization is experiencing the impact of a recession then taking risk or considering any growth initiatives would be dismissed. The focus would be on getting through the day-to-day activities to survive.
An optimist is a big picture thinker and has positive view of the future. They would not be looking at what is happening right now or what happened in the past but will be looking at the possibility of the great things that could happen in the future.
- Sir Winston Churchill was one of the greatest optimistic leaders of all time. He was exceptionally skilled at using the language of motivation. He was able to turn the British people around, despite the fact they were losing the war, to believing in his vision for Britain’s future.
Winston Churchill used a strategy in his speeches that was simple and very effective. The first thing he would do was assess the situation and acknowledge the reality of it. He then would present a strategy for overcoming the challenge. Thirdly he would create the vision of what the future would look like when they were successful.
Winston’s Churchill’s strategy was a strategy of an optimist. He believed that things would get better because he knew that he would make it better.
- In 2008 research was conducted by the University of California and Harvard called the “Emotional Contagion”. This research looked at happiness and how contagious it was. What the researchers discovered was that when people where surrounded by happy people that are more likely to become happy too. The research even calculated that happiness could spread and impact on people up to three degrees of separation.
Optimists are happy people. Optimistic leaders’ behaviors are infectious and they have a positive impact on the morale and state of happiness of the people they lead.
- Optimists do not like to work alone and will seek others’ thoughts and opinions before making decisions. They believe that the power to change or take action is greatest in a collective team. An optimist leader seeks to have their teams engaged and working together toward a shared purpose and vision. An optimists style of leadership is not one of command and control but one where diversity and the expression of opposing thoughts and opinions are encouraged.
- Optimistic people always focus on the positive aspects of a situation. Their view of life is different to that of a pessimist. The analogy that is used to describe the difference is, that optimists see a glass of water as “half full” whereas a pessimist will see the glass of water as a “half empty”.
An optimist has hope and a belief in a better future. They focus on opportunities instead of obstacles. They understand what motivates and inspires them to live a successful and fulfilled life. Negativity and fear do not belong in their world and in fact are inhibitors to their success in life.
Research has shown that by having an optimistic view of life you are likely to have a more successful, happier and healthier life, than a person who has a pessimistic view of life.
An optimistic leader does not follow their people to wallow in the dark and difficult times. They encourage them to acknowledge the reality of the situation, to plan ahead, take action and work toward a better and more successful future.
Anyone can become an optimistic leader, you just need to learn how. One of the best books I haveever read about how you can increase your level of optimism, is written by Martin Seligman. Martin Seligman provides fantastic tools and strategies for you to use to increase your level of optimism.
© Kathryn Sanford. All Rights Reserved.