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Eight Steps to Optimistic Leadership

December 5th, 2013

Businesswise for Women offers regular advice to help you be a better, stronger leader. This month, Mary Kay Badar, principal with Veritas Leadership Group, LLC, says success may be a matter of attitude and offers eight ways to change yours. 

Optimism may be the new secret weapon to leadership success. Optimism is an important component of achievement and in motivating and influencing others, especially in times of change, chaos and turbulence. Those with a more optimistic outlook will roll with the punches, be more proactive and persistent, and will not abandon hope.

Studies show that pessimists are up to eight times more likely to become depressed when bad events occur, do worse in school and sports, have worse physical health, shorter life spans and rockier relationships. The good news is that optimism and pessimism are, to some degree, learned behaviors. Changing the way one thinks can dramatically impact career options and confidence levels. 

Highly effective and optimistic leaders have a transforming effect on their teams and employees. They can convince others they have the ability to achieve levels of performance beyond those traditionally thought possible. They can paint an optimistic and attainable view of the future for their followers. Optimistic leaders help move people from being stuck in the mindset of “this is how things are done around here” to “how can things be done better”. It’s difficult for someone with a pessimistic outlook to be creative and innovative if they are constantly thinking “it will never fly” or “we’ve tried all this before…it will never work”.

There are a few strategies to consider in order to increase your level of optimism:

  1. Avoid negative environments: seek out people that have a more positive outlook.
  2. Concentrate on your strengths: play to your strengths and create awareness of your developmental needs along with a plan to improve them without making the developmental needs your focus.
  3. Tend to your emotional and spiritual well-being: feed your soul with inspirational reading and challenge yourself to grow.
  4. Ignore what you cannot change: identify what you can change when faced with setbacks and proactively do something about that. Let go that which you cannot change.
  5. Reframe:  deliberately shift your perspective in a negative situation and look for and focus on the positive. Create awareness for yourself around how your thoughts are sub-optimizing your behavior.
  6. Alter your language…and outlook:  instead of saying “yes, but…” consider the difference of “yes, and…” – practice being more upbeat.
  7. Focus on others: it’s hard to feel pessimistic if you are focusing on others and how you can help and make a difference.
  8. Cultivate spontaneity: getting out of your comfort zone and having fun can help to develop your optimism because life will “feel” better when it’s more fun.

Engage your secret leadership weapon. Practice seeing opportunity and reframing pessimistic thoughts! 

Get Connected
Veritas Leadership Group, LLC
www.VeritasLG.com

This story, written by Mary Kay Badar, is part of the Chamber's monthly Businesswise for Women email newsletter. To sign up for any or all of the Chamber's email communications, click here

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