Candan Akkan, E&E Group / Assessment Director
Is there such a thing as being too positive in how you approach life? Is optimism simply a perspective that some people are born with? How does a leader’s outlook, pessimistic or optimistic, impact their team? Do people across the globe hold the same view of optimism?
These are among the questions we consider. Research have tried to tease apart how optimism helps or hinders leaders at all levels in the organisation. Their findings help us to understand the nuances of this important trait. This trait can develop just as you can enhance physical skills such as riding a bike.
What is Positive Outlook?
It means you are able to see opportunity even when faced with what at first glance seems a failure. You expect that changes in the future will be for the better. Researches look at how people explain to themselves good or bad situations they encounter. Some people blame themselves for bad things that happen and assume that such setbacks will continue to occur and impact whatever they do. Others think that setbacks are situational, caused by a variety of forces not due to some personal failing that things will improve and that they have the capabilities to shift things for the better.
Why Positive Outlook matters?
Positive Outlook leads to positive emotions. What matters for business is the know-on effect: Positive emotions increase performance, loyalty, motivation and customer service. So consider that the emotions of leaders shape the feeling of the people around them for better or worse.
We can believe that the future will be positive. Also, keeping a positive attitude about the future is as important as being mindful about difficulties. This is what we call realistic optimism. Otherwise, believing only to the future will be positive without sufficiently seeing the potential difficulties that will turn us into Pollyanna with blind optimism. So we can believe that the future will be positive and at the same take risks in to account. This can help us in the way of managing self and others with strategic acumen. Strategic acumen is the way how we approach opportunities and mindfulness of risks.
In Harrison Assessments Paradox Theory, we measure 12 paradoxes. One of the paradoxes is Strategic acumen. So here is an example below.

When we overly emphasize the potential difficulties of a plan or a strategy without giving sufficient emphasis to the potential benefits, we can be sceptical. When we focus on possible benefits of a plan or strategy while failing to adequately see the potential difficulties, we can be blindly optimistic. When we take risks while at the same time believe that the future is bleak, we can be a careless pessimist. So how we overcome these possibilities can be explained with realistic optimism. That is where both optimism and analysing pitfalls have strong tendencies.

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