Optimism and Strategy
Robert Masters, Chair, Centre for Optimism
"It does not matter what strategies you adopt to achieve your goals, as long as they include optimism in the ‘how’ and ‘why’...
"The ‘secret’ ingredient of corporate and political strategies is optimism. It is a vital additive to achieving all the objectives of a goal or mission. Unfortunately, many leaders continue to fail to include the word and its framework when developing their strategies. Leaders who recognise and promote it are better at achieving their mission. Churchill, for instance, embraced it in his famous defence speech of 13 May 1940 when he declared the goal was ‘victory, however long and hard the road may be’. Of himself, he said: “I am an optimist—it does not seem to be much use being anything else."
Optimism inspires those to deliver the objectives of strategies.”
Victor Perton, COO of The Centre for Optimism
Some of the companies with the best consumer research get the optimism message. Coca Cola has included optimism in its mission statement seeking “To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.”
Optimism is at the core of strategy. As strategy is a large part of my work on boards and as an adviser, I have made it my business to ask others about the role of optimism in good strategy.
Allan Shaw puts it well, ”Strategy is about envisioning and planning for a better future. Without optimism there is little point in planning for a better future."
How do you put this into action at work?
At the strategy and business planning level, make sure each person opens with what’s going well, what makes them optimistic and what plans do they have to build a better future for the organisation and the team. If there’s a strategy retreat or business retreat, make sure the facilitators are optimistic and upbeat. I have sat through too many of these sessions led by people whose business model is based on making you feel bad about how you are going as leaders, managers, innovators and the like. The message is “you’re not good enough and hire me to make you better.”
My view is the leader looks like the person in your mirror. Everyone leads in some element of their work and their environment.
You are good enough and can get better as can your colleagues. Optimism enlivens and impassions while pessimism paralyses.
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