Do you view the glass as half full or half empty? This is a question that is often used to determine if an individual leans more towards a pessimistic or optimistic view of their circumstances. Those who will largely view the glass as half empty are considered pessimist – they generally gravitate towards negative thoughts and tend to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen. Conversely, those who subscribe to viewing the glass as half full are typically more positive, optimistic individuals who tend to be confident and hopeful relative to the future and the successful outcome of a situation.
Have you ever been around (lived or worked with) someone who is always negative? Every word that comes out of their mouth is doom and gloom – nothing has ever worked out, nothing will ever work out. These persons tend to be the ones who will throw cold water on every proposed idea and they are quick to let you know that the plan will simply not work. Furthermore, they are the ones that when you say: “believe me it will work,” they will often scoff, roll their eyes and say: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” These people are difficult to work or live with because they effectively suck the energy out of every room or discussion in which they find themselves and they always seem to bring dark clouds with them wherever they go. Such attitudes in the work environment negatively impact on team morale and ultimately productivity, so when found amongst leaders, the potential fallout is tremendous.
These types of leaders are fairly easy to spot: they cast blame and point judgemental fingers at everyone but themselves; they do not accept change; they speak negatively about their bosses and even their subordinates; they complain about everything; they are petty and thin-skinned; they love bad news. Leaders who operate like this create toxic environments for their teams and this will cause the unit to fail to meet internal objectives. It will also spill over into the organisation’s interactions with its customers. This is definitely not the kind of leader that anyone wants nor is it the kind of leader that any of us should seek to be.
Good leaders are positive. Have you ever had a boss who seemed to always be positive no matter what the challenge was, no matter what was thrown in his or her direction? How did this attitude impact on you and your perspective of the challenge? I am sure that it made you believe that anything was possible and that you could and would overcome; this is the power of leadership. Leaders who generally think and focus on the positive give off an energy that is not only positive, but is contagious! This motivates their teams and increases employee morale which can then lead to increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
Positive leaders view a challenge as just that – a challenge. They do not see it as the end of the world and they will not present it to their followers as insurmountable and impossible. In a rapidly changing world, where our environment has become more competitive and more difficult to navigate, we need positive leaders who will portray and instil in us a view which says that we shall be victorious. In managing a home, a business and even a country, positivity in the face of a largely negative outlook can mean the difference between rising to the challenge and overcoming it or falling under its weight and thereby being consumed. We cannot afford this as leaders – we must be positive!
Positive leaders can see the silver lining in every dark cloud. This is not about overlooking or even denying the reality of a situation and seeking to convince self and others that all is well when it really is not. It refers to being able to locate those positive elements that are usually nestled deep within a generally bad circumstance. Suppose your company approached you and told you that you are being relocated – they are taking you from the location you have been at for the last five years and sending you to a recently opened branch.
For many people, there may be some hesitation as thoughts of leaving the familiar space, duties and people could bring a degree of trepidation. If one stops there, the impending change will cause a level of discomfort which may negatively affect a smooth integration into the new environment. However, with further positive thought and in seeking to find those silver linings, you may realise that the new location is much closer to your home, which will make it easier for you relative to your commute, to being able to pick up your children from school and to being able to spend more time with your family. It is easy to dwell on the negative in any given situation but positive people and leaders will instead seek to find, magnify and focus on the positive elements.
We need more positive leaders in our country and it starts with each of us as individuals. Look on the brighter side of life and seek to view the glass as half full – this will not only improve your outlook on the situations you face but your positive energy will make you more of a joy to be around!
(Davidson Ishmael holds a MBA in Leadership and Innovation and is an operations manager in the financial services sector.