mardi 8 avril 2014

Are you an optimistic leader?

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It has been a long cold winter, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a decade. I have found over the last few weeks that everyone I run into has one of two perspectives about the weather.

Shawn Casemore
Shawn Casemore
1. This winter and cold weather will never end. 

2. Spring is right around the corner. 

These perspectives draw upon the age-old question, is the glass half empty or half full? Well, the glass is whatever you decide it to be. We have a choice as to whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. But what if that choice has an impact on our employees, or on our teams? Can the optimistic attitude of a leader really improve team morale? Does a pessimistic attitude tarnish team morale? The answer to these questions is yes. 

There is an abundance of research supporting the positive impacts optimistic leaders can have on employee effectiveness and productivity. The question then becomes, how can I be more optimistic in light of the leadership challenges I face? 

Optimistic leaders engage employees through their persona and influence. 

Here are three ideas that you can put into practice today: 

1. Seek out an optimistic viewpoint: In some situations it can be difficult to naturally be optimistic. Dealing with a key customer account that is threatening to leave is just one example. But recognize that optimism is contagious, and like a virus, you often have to be around others who are optimistic. Invest time in seeking input or ideas from others who are optimistic and your viewpoint will shift. 

2. Practice optimism: In circumstances where I find pessimism naturally arises, I force myself to consider an optimistic point of view. In order to do this I must first have a trigger that recognizes when I am being pessimistic, and then I must consciously consider an opposing, more optimistic view. This is hard but valuable work if you want to retrain yourself to be more optimistic. 

3. Positive peer group: They say you are who your friends are. Those whom you connect and relate with are the same people that inadvertently influence your actions. Consider whether your peers are optimistic or pessimistic. If there is more of the former than later, great! However if you want to shed some pessimism in your life, consider seeking out other more optimistic leaders. Joining peer groups and forums is often a great way to connect with other optimistic, growth minded professionals. 

Optimism is not a natural state for many of us, but it is a perspective that we can enhance, and doing so as a business leader will have positive effects on your team. Regardless of how cold it may be outside, spring will come. Focus on the excitement of the transition from winter to spring, rather than the pessimistic view of a long drawn out winter. Your optimism will be contagious. 

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