Have you ever walked into a place of business and sensed a vibe or a mood? Workplaces have a “feel” to them which is directly related to the emotional tone set by the leader and the team, or teams. And, emotions are contagious. The leader is responsible for setting that emotional tone which requires good self-awareness and self-management, helping you become an influential leader.
“It’s that time of year when the world”…. goes crazy…..Wait, that’s not how the song goes. No, it is not, but it is true to some degree. Millions of people are working hard to wrap up year-end and prepare for the holidays, and stress levels can be off the chart. As a result, emotions can run high. Since emotions are contagious, what emotions are people “catching” from you?
Imagine how the experience of this time of year would be different for you and your team if you were to set an emotional tone focused on optimism? I don’t mean the saccharin, overly sweet, Pollyannaish, heads in the clouds approach. Optimism, as defined by clinical psychologist Steven Stein is “the ability to maintain a realistically positive attitude, particularly in the face of adversity.”
What better time of year is there to set an emotional tone of optimism? Martin Seligman says that “optimism is the skeleton of hope.” And, as people are preparing to wrap up the calendar and fiscal year, leaders can buoy them up with this positive emotion and get them excited for what the New Year will hold.
What are some benefits of optimism?
- Positive emotions like optimism increase productive energy within individuals and teams. It is similar to skating along effortlessly on a smooth surface vs slogging through mud. Optimistic people are able to navigate better mentally and physically, no matter the situation, generating more positive results.
- Optimism tends to drive possibility thinking and action. Rather than the more common pessimistic approach of being stuck in a problem, optimism focuses more on solutions or what is positively possible. It is a necessary aspect of effective problem-solving.
- You become more attractive, and a better leader- Bonus! Consider what it is like to be around someone who always complains or can’t think of anything good to say. People tend to avoid pessimists. Conversely, when you are approachable, positive, and engaging, you become more socially attractive and people want to be around you. Because of that phenonmenon, optimism plays an important role in influencing and motivating others.
- Optimism improves your physical and emotional health and wellbeing. You will feel better with an optimistic approach than one of pessimism. According to this paper by Harvard Health Publishing, optimism helps people cope with disease and recover from surgery. It also helps reduce stress, another health benefit. Try it for a few hours. Purposely focus on maintaining a realistically positive attitude and see how you feel physically and mentally.
What can you do to set a more optimistic emotional tone?
- Resist going to worst case scenarios. Train yourself to think like an optimist and limit your complaining.
- Watch what you say to yourself and others. Reframe problem focused thinking to solution-oriented brainstorming.
- Set your expectations for success. We all tend to get what we expect in life and from others. Work on what Martin Seligman calls “flexible optimism” which factors in risks rather than relying blindly on faith in positive outcomes.
- Initiate a plan in one area of your work or life to become more of an optimist and track your results. Pay attention to how it impacts your leadership and those you lead.
Remember, setbacks are temporary circumstances. As with any skill development, this takes practice. Being aware of the emotional tone you create as a leader or individual contributor will help you notice areas for improvement. Commit to improving this skill and it will pay big dividends for you and your team now and in the year to come. Let us know how we can help.
Wishing you all the best in this holiday season!