What I’ve learnt: optimism in leadership

In leadership, there are plenty of triumphs and challenges every day, so how do you handle the ups and downs without becoming overwhelmed and turning into a pessimist. It’s easy enough to let the negativity prevail but it’s important to have a good handle on your positivity when you’re in a leadership role.

The great thing about being human is that we are all made up of a huge range of emotions – we can’t be happy all the time! This doesn’t always have to be such a bad thing.

So, how should we be responding to setbacks?

Each situation will call for a unique response and every individual will react differently, but there are three standard steps I take whenever I am experiencing a setback, failure or other negatively perceived event.

  1. Acknowledge the issue – ignoring or avoiding it just leaves it to fester and get worse over time.
  2. Respond – make it clear to your team how you will be approaching the situation and demonstrate it through a combination of your words and actions.
  3. Move on – failure is a good way to learn, so take the setback as an opportunity to reflect, modify the direction you’re going in and press on.

Despite these three steps, there’s still room for negativity. I’ve found that there are plenty of things that lend themselves to negativity in the team environment. Avoid seeing things with a ‘glass half empty’ perspective and make sure your team is filled with people viewing things through a positive lens – not everything will be positive all the time but it’s great to see a little positive in everything.

It is also crucial to hone in on the heart of the setback. There’s plenty of noise and it’s easy to get caught up in the consequences of a setback but take some time to focus on the issue at the heart.

Even the most optimistic people need to remember to use the right words, actions and facial expressions that line up with the severity of the situation. Your team won’t get the message when something is important or non-negotiable if you are saying it with a big smile on your face and they won’t know you’re proud of them if you’re looking downcast and unhappy – it’s important to choose the right emotion to convey information in different situations.

My top tips for helping leaders to stay positive?

  • Get a good night’s sleep – when you’re tired, it’s easy to be irritable and be affected easily by setbacks. Make sure you have a high level of resilience by getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Keep a balanced diet – everything in moderation! It’s good to break the rules with a wine or a little treat now and then but do it too much and your body won’t thank you. Keep your body on your side and ready to face anything that comes your way.
  • Exercise regularly – exercise releases endorphins, helping you to face any setback with a positive mindset.
  • Surround yourself with positive people – it’s contagious, this positivity!
  • Do nice things for others – helping others out is a great way to spread the positivity, especially if you’re helping them during a time that might be full of negativity for them.

All these things are small steps and some might see them as insignificant but they all play a part in the way that you prepare yourself for the challenges of each day. As a leader, it’s important to be setting the example for your team and be showing them how to approach setbacks as opportunities to learn, rather than failures.

If you’re ready to use positivity to your advantage in your leadership, People Make the Difference can help you with training workshops, one-on-one coaching and Coach On Call services. To find out more, call us on 0412 333 415 or visit pmtd.com.au.