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Cultivate Realistic and Infectiously Optimistic Leadership

The best leaders are realistic and infectious optimists and lead their teams to discover greater optimism, resilience and self-mastery.  

by Victor Perton

We are all called to lead from kindergarten to our death-bed.

The zeitgeist in the developed world is pessimistic and cynical. We don’t need another hero, but the times call for realistic and infectiously optimistic leadership.

The best leaders are realistic and infectious optimists and lead their teams to discover greater optimism, resilience and self-mastery.  

In my country, professionally and looking beyond their home-environment, Australians are increasingly pessimistic people when looking at corporations, institutions, the nation, the world and the future of work. Similar results ring true of much of the developed world.

Many economic surveys purport to measure optimism on a weekly and monthly basis. While shallow, the point I take from these surveys is that optimism is the life-blood of a growing economy. Silicon Valley and Israel thrive on the optimism of their entrepreneurs and innovators.

At the Centre for Optimism, we work around self-driven optimism, infectious optimism.

A popular mantra for our participants is “The Leader looks like the person in MY mirror.”

We’re not talking about being a Pollyanna, although being Pollyannish does have its virtues in supporting ambition and passion. New York fashion designer Anna Sui said: “When I was a kid, my favourite movie was Pollyanna because she was the ultimate optimist. I wanted that optimism, that dreaming of the possibilities.

In our corporate and institutional work, we ask senior leaders to open up conversations right across the business on what makes the team members optimistic.   

Experiment: The next meeting you lead, go round the table asking each person what makes them optimistic.

Don't spring it on the group.  You can put it on the agenda so they can reflect beforehand. If you don't have an agenda, let them know you'll do this in a few minutes.

Take your time, don’t rush. If someone doesn’t feel ready to express themselves, let them take a pass.

If they ask, don't limit it to optimism about work or the company.

The word cloud below reflects the answers of several thousand people globally to the question, "What makes you Optimistic?"

I have conducted this exercise for Boards, Executive Groups, Conferences, Leadership Groups, Prisoners in Prisons, Universities, Schools and Refugee Groups.  It is very powerful and positive.

On one occasion, a businessman assembled a group of business acquaintances to support a friend who had suffered a tragic accident.  It took us 90 minutes to get around the table with inspiring stories that many had never told before.

If you'd like me or one the Centre for Optimism leaders to lead an optimism round-table for you, please contact me via email or on the phone numbers below.

Office: +61 3 9645 8767
COO +61 417 217 241

253b Richardson Street
Middle Park (Melbourne)
Victoria 3206

Copyright: The Centre for Optimism

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