Qualities of A Leader: Optimism and Realism

Qualities of A Leader, Optimism Defined, Realism Defined

Summary: Optimism and realism are two qualities of a leader that are essential to business success. Good leaders know how to effectively balance the two mindsets in different business situations.

Leaders usually lean toward one of two mindsets: optimism or realism. Optimism is the tendency to expect and see the best in all things. Realism is having a practical acceptance or awareness of what can be achieved or expected. When in a position of leadership, is one mindset better than the other? It depends.

While there is a strong link between good leadership and optimism, unrealistic optimism can lead to delusions of grandeur. It can cause leaders to overestimate their ability to achieve success while ignoring crucial facts or possible setbacks. Consequently, leaders must effectively balance optimism and realism depending on the situation.

Allocating resources. Leaders must be realistic when hiring employees, setting budgets, etc. Leaders must also make investments without being too practical to create growth. They must have faith that those investments will deliver a return. When allocating resources, a mindset ratio of 50% optimism and 50% realism is recommended.

Experiencing failure. Leaders must treat failure as a learning experience and remain optimistic. Good leaders give people permission to fail to innovate and grow. They coach people to get over failure fast and come back smarter and stronger. When experiencing failure, a mindset ratio of 70% optimism and 30% realism is recommended.

Leading organizations. Realism should dominate a leader’s mindset to ensure sound decisions are made based on facts, not emotions. However, leaders must also take risks to move organizations forward despite uncertainties. When leading organizations, a mindset ratio of 40% optimism and 60% realism is recommended.

Leading people. Realism should also dominate a leader’s mindset when influencing others. While keeping people excited about the future creates energy and unlocks potential, leaders must base rewards on contribution, not potential. When leading people, a mindset ratio of 20% optimism and 80% realism is recommended.

Selling products. Leaders must be optimistic when marketing and selling their company’s products and services in the market. Helping clients solve business problems is difficult, if not impossible, unless one has a positive, can-do attitude. When selling products, a mindset ratio of 90% optimism and 10% realism is recommended.

Good leaders know that the right mindset – optimism or realism – is a moving target. Each business situation must always be assessed on an individual basis to determine the right mindset ratio to be applied.

All contents copyright © 2014, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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One Response to Qualities of A Leader: Optimism and Realism

  1. Frank Hzvaok says:

    Helpful post.

    Like

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