Over the past year, we’ve focused on various leadership qualities, including taking responsibility, exercising patience, and having grit. This blog is the last in our series on developing leadership qualities, and we’ve saved the best for last…optimism..
Why is optimism important?
According to SUCCESS magazine, “the best leaders are guided by optimism.” There are 3 qualities of optimism:
- Anticipating the opportunities to come rather than dwelling on the challenges at hand.
- Being grateful for what you have (e.g., a good team).
- Having the mindset of a winner.
Some people tend to be glass-half-empty types, always looking at things in a negative way. Others are naturally glass-half-full types, who expect things to go right. One study found that about 25% of optimism (or pessimism) is inherited. Whichever polar opposite you tend to be, you can have the right amount of optimism to be a good leader.
An article in Psychology Today says that optimism can be learned, but warns against being blindly optimistic. This can lead to overconfidence and carelessness. What’s more, it may reduce one’s effort to achieve (blindly believing that success will just happen). The article suggests that we should strive for “realistic optimism.”
You can train your brain to be optimistic. Better lists 6 ways to do this:
- Consciously think happy thoughts
- Associate with positive people (and steer clear of complainers, gossipers, and other negative thinkers)
- Limit news time, especially in today’s highly charged political environment
- Journal daily, expressing gratitude for at least a few minutes each day
- Recognize what you can and can’t control
- Acknowledge the negative so you won’t be a Pollyanna stuck in fantasy
Helen Keller said: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
This is the last in a 12-part series on leadership qualities. Starting in 2020, there will be a 12-part series on preparing for changing economic winds.