Leadership Optimism: Dreaming, Denial, or Discovery? #Peopleskills
by Kate Nasser |
Leadership Optimism: Are You Dreaming, Denying, or Discovering?
Leadership optimism is popular today. Innovation, today’s business buzzword for success, is leadership optimism in action. Believe and conceive what is possible!
Yet, there are still many who see optimism as negative. As I read Optimism May Be Stifling Your Team in the Harvard Business Review, it struck me that the problem is not optimism. The problem is in the definition of leadership optimism!
Is Leadership Optimism:
Dreaming, Denial, or Discovery?
When optimism shuts out reality, it gets the label of dreaming and denial. When combined with reality it moves everyone forward with discovery. Sounds simple, right? Well it’s not so black and white. As a leader, how do you keep optimism real without it reverting to negative, pessimistic, hopeless thinking?
Leadership Optimism: Keeping it Real!
Speak and Engage Feedback.
In the Harvard Business Review article noted above, the leader kept saying to the team: “How hard can it be?” This is not actually an expression of optimism. It is a rhetorical question that indirectly tells the team to follow orders. It also denies the team members’ hard work and thus it not inspirational. Keep leadership optimism real by engaging the team’s ideas and honoring their efforts. “This goal is high. We’ve met remarkable challenges in the past. I believe we can do this. What will it take? What are the challenges. How will we meet them?”
Encourage Healthy Skepticism not Pessimism.
To prevent reality from turning into endless pessimism, illustrate the difference between healthy skepticism and pessimism. Health skepticism raises issues about tough challenges. It encourages diverse discussion and critical thinking. It helps to prevent groupthink. Pessimism is a negative expression of what isn’t possible. It comes across as complaining. It seeks to shut down healthy debate with rigid restatements of what isn’t possible.
Separate Your Fears from the Vision.
Are you afraid the teams will resist and not meet the vision? Do you feel pressure to meet financial goals or the expectations of your boss? All these fears can push you to block reality by dreaming and denying. Identify your fears and remind yourself “It’s a feeling not a fact.” This little statement has the power to keep you upbeat, inspirational, engaging discussion, and leading with true optimism.
Communicate Vision and Listen to Reality.
I witnessed one leader get the label “dreamy-eyed” because all he ever did was communicate new vision and ideas. He drove his leadership team crazy because he wouldn’t allow them time to follow through and implement. In truth, he was not practicing leadership optimism. He was actually indulging his personal preference for constant change. He even admitted to me that he loved change and hated status quo. Envision then listen so all can participate in success.
Optimism and realism nicely co-exist. They are powerful partners. They sustain each other by preventing the extreme of each.
Capture the power of both in communicating:
- Discuss instead of mandate.
- Engage to explore vs. declare to hide.
- Practice patience in listening vs. frustration in fear.
- Honor commitment, efforts, and achievements instead of denying the truth and proclaiming it’s easy.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
©2013 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. 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 business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results. Kate invites you to also connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She welcomes your interaction!