I’ve been accused of being “the most consistently optimistic person I’ve ever known” by more than a few individuals. I’ve also been given feedback during performance reviews over the years that my optimism is “contagious.” Why has this been true of me? Have I always had it great? No. I’ve been through my share of difficulties in life. I’ve had my share of troubles. But, I’ve always been very serious about my work, and as a leader I believe I must be optimistic to be effective.
Have you ever been around a person who is rarely optimistic? A person who is pessimistic? How about having to follow the lead of a pessimist? I have, and it wasn’t any fun. In fact, it was very difficult to keep my head in the game and do what I was supposed to do under that person’s leadership.
This old saying says it all. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
I believe that a good leader must find a way to be optimistic. It is truly contagious; it will be felt by the entire team and will have a HUGE impact on the team’s performance.
Another important point about optimism and leadership is one of foresight or possibility. Can a leader really lead people where they need to go if they, themselves aren’t convinced that that destination will be a better place than where they are today? How can a leader possibly “rally the troops” around a vision or plan of action if they don’t themselves believe it’s the right –best– way to go … that it will be a good place to be?