Leadership: Choose the Positive Pollyanna! #peopleskills
by Kate Nasser |
Leadership: New Insights on Optimism and Pollyanna
Over the years several leaders have told me that they wouldn’t promote someone who had a Pollyanna attitude. It was one of those leadership labels that spoke volumes. Their disdain was clear. They were describing optimism as unrealistic and naive.
Because leadership today focuses on positive thinking, I decided to watch the movie Pollyanna to see how this supposedly optimistic label earned such disdain.
I expected Pollyanna to be a foolish character that was out of touch with reality. I pictured being bored and reaching for the stop button.
Instead I saw a passionate change agent who spoke up to people regardless of their age, position. and disposition. Pollyanna was very much in touch with reality!
When someone told a lie, she called them on it. She also knew when to be polite yet summoned the courage to assert the positive to ardent pessimists. She alone turned around negative Mrs. Snow who spent hours picking out a coffin despite her good health.
Pollyanna minced no words after one of Mrs. Snow’s long complaints …
- “You could be glad you’re not dying. You could be helping others. Forget about dying and be glad you’re living.”
Pollyanna’s father had used this glad game approach to sustain his daughter during tough times. They were poor and life was difficult. His leadership molded her view of everyday life. Now as an orphan she displayed his leadership principles.
So why is the Pollyanna character so often maligned?
Is it because …
- Leaders are afraid that too much focus on the positive will lead to denial and failure?
- Traditional leaders define leadership as finding all the threats? Is it that they see little value in highlighting the positive?
- Pessimists crave the negative so much that they’re driven to twist every positive into a negative?
Leadership: Why We Need the Real Pollyannas
- They live gratitude in their core. It sustains their will and prevents complacency.
- They model resilience. It breeds a self-sustaining culture.
- They are both empathetic AND forthright. It nourishes morale and productivity.
- They are motivated and inspired. It inspires others.
- They initiate change and innovation. It overcomes the comfort of complaining.
Shall we look for the positive? After all, “when you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you most surely will.” ~Abraham Lincoln
My advice to leaders is, see the reality and lead with can-do optimism.
Go ahead, promote employees that can be forthright and polite. Applaud the resilient employees who raise both concerns and solutions instead of getting stuck in complaints. Foster courage to question the status quo and the insight to clearly assess the risks.
- Increase productivity through shared optimism.
- Develop a culture of creative innovation through can-do commitment.
- Lead change in the face of many pessimists and change resisters.
- Hire and promote true Pollyannas. They are grateful and hardy not apathetic and disillusioned. They improvise and overcome to reach success. They are the resilient workforce you dream of. They live in service to others and to the positive result.
There is no need to choose between reality and optimism. Optimism sees both the current reality and future possibilities. It’s a marriage of success.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Grateful for image by Kat via Flickr Creative Commons License.
©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.