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8 Reasons Why Optimists Are Better Leaders

8 Reasons Why Optimists Are Better Leaders

“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

All 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.

If you want to be good leader then become an Optimistic Leader. This will guarantee you the success of leadership you aspire to.

So Why Is it That Optimists Make Better Leaders? Optimists demonstrate the behaviours and attitudes that support good leadership. Listed below are the 8 reasons why optimists are better leaders.

1. Optimists are Solution Focused

Optimists want to solve problems and improve the situation they are in. They will always focus on finding a solution rather than analysing the issues surrounding the problem.

The solution-based approach that an optimist leader uses promotes creativity and innovative thinking. An optimist is quite comfortable thinking outside of the square; in fact that is where they are their happiest.

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The key questions an optimistic leader will ask when seeking a solution are: What is needed? (Not; what is wrong?). What it 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?

2. Optimists Are Not Afraid Of Failure

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 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 teamsmoving 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.

3. Optimists Are Great Communicators

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.

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4. Optimists Are Future Orientated Thinkers

Psychologists have found that optimists are less likely to be controlled by the “Recency Effect”. This is 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 organisation 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 a 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.

5. Optimists Use The Language of Motivation

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 was immune to the “Regency Effect” (see above). He was able to elicit the belief from the British people that they had a future and that they would win the war despite all odds against them. He gave them hope and made them feel brave. In his speeches he motivated and inspired the British public to believe that they were winners and that surrendering to the Germans was not an option.

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.

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6. Optimists’ Behaviours Are Infectious

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 they 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’ behaviours are infectious and they have a positive impact on the morale and state of happiness of the people they lead.

7. Optimists Value The Principle of Collaboration

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.

Optimists will openly share information and knowledge with others to enable them to fully participate in the decision making process. 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.

8. Optimists Have A Success Mindset

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.

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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. Leaders who are optimists have the ability to envision a better future and they are able to inspire and motivate people to work toward achieving that shared vision of success.

An optimistic leader does not allow 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 have ever 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.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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