What makes a leader a great leader? Resilience. Empathy. Vision. Humility. Passion. Motivation. Integrity. Charisma. If you listed any of those things, you’re in good company. Those characteristics, and many more, are commonly listed among the specific traits that leaders possess. And yet, that list misses out on the one thing that separates the great from the exceptional: a positive attitude.
It Sets a Tone
Listen, this one is important. If you, as a leader, don’t project confidence and optimism, your team is going to reflect that. Successful teams are those rooted in the belief that they will succeed (or they’ll learn something to help them succeed on the next try if they stumble). They are teams that support one another and rally. They are productive and collaborative. Most importantly, they have a leader who cultivates that team attitude by modeling it herself. (Now, how do you do that? Great question. This article will help: Leaders, Your Attitude is Contagious.)
It Creates Energy
You have two projects before you. Frankly, the first task is one you’re kind of dreading. The other task is right in your wheelhouse. You love this second one; in fact, you might even tackle this type of project even if no one was paying you to do it. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell!) If you’re being honest, you might feel a little sluggish and uninspired as you reach for that first project. The second? You are pumped! You are physically and mentally ready to hit the ground running. That’s the impact of a positive attitude. Now, here’s why that matters for leaders. Your positive attitude can create that same sort of enthusiasm about the workplace. Your attitude can influence whether the office is a place people come to because they have to work or the type of place they come to because they want to be there to work.
It’s a Confidence Booster
The positive leader doesn’t assume everything she and her team tackle is going to succeed. That’s simply not realistic. She does, however, know that she and her team have the wherewithal to innovate and succeed. She knows that success doesn’t have a cookie-cutter definition, that sometimes short-term failure leads to long term wins. She knows that in order to grow and do the impossible, you have to be willing to take a risk and dream. She knows that you don’t innovate unless you stretch the boundaries of your vision and you wiggle yourself out of your comfort zone. And she knows that sometimes the process is uncomfortable but she’s positive that on the other side of that discomfort there is something so much better. That outlook gives her and her team the confidence to dream and try.
It Starts with Wisdom
We’re not talking about blind optimism. Leaders with a positive attitude don’t assume everything they could possibly try is going to rocket them and their organization to the top. They understand that before they step out in faith, they need to do their due diligence to weigh whether this risk is one worth taking. That begins by looking for the opportunities inherent in a situation. It includes an honest assessment of the organization’s capabilities and potential.
It Brings Fortitude Along for the Ride
Leaders with a positive attitude are playing the long game. They know the road to success isn’t always an easy one. There are going to be trials and stumbles. They don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. Optimism yields stick-to-itiveness. Leaders with this trait expect others to persevere. Wait, it’s bigger than that: Leaders with a positive attitude encourage and support their teams in a way that promotes perseverance throughout the organization. That, in turn, has a habit of boosting productivity across the board.
It Enables Problem-Solving
An optimist and a pessimist are walking down the trail together. They reach a small creek that must be crossed. It’s too wide to step over. The pessimist will sit down on a log nearby and complain about the way the walk has been halted. The optimist will ask her pal for help stretching that log across the span to create a bridge they can walk over. A positive attitude helps you see potential solutions instead of insurmountable roadblocks.
It Matters A Lot Right Now
The thing about living through a global pandemic is that the level of uncertainty and unease has increased exponentially. As science learns more about COVID-19, as the numbers of those infected rise or fall, the recommendations for how we go about life shift. It can leave us all feeling unsettled. A positive attitude, however, can help bring a bit of balance into that disruption. Modeling that outlook as a leader helps return a sense of stability and assuredness within your organization, and by extension to your clients! Leaders, your attitude matters. Cultivate a good one.