<A HREF="http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fdigicast-20%2F8005%2Fe60347da-2350-4d6c-855d-687e2e827f10&amp;Operation=NoScript">Amazon.com Widgets
Back to blog

Do You Possess this Secret Superpower of Successful Leaders?

Whether we want to admit it or not, change is now a constant in our lives. Gone are the days when companies would embark on a change project. Now, companies are in a constant state of transformation.
And yet, it wasn't that long ago, I was booked to speak to a group of 200 leaders. The rules around my engagement were - "Don't mention the word change, our leaders are change fatigued. If they hear the word, they will get upset." 
Today, we need leaders who are willing to confront and transform unproductive instincts into around change into drivers of organisational growth and innovation. Reshaping our internal reactions to change is key to effective leadership in a constantly evolving business environment. Fear and assumptions about uncertainty hinders progress. It stops us from innovating, adding value and tackling challenges.
In today's world, if we want to lead our teams to success, we need leaders who aren't afraid of change. That includes leaders who don't need their ears to be protected from even hearing the word.
In my research, I have found leaders who have done the work of internal transformation ensuring they navigate transitions with their teams with resilience. I have termed this inspired optimism. It's a true superpower. 

What is Inspired Optimism? 

Research has found that leaders who promote positive energy have a significant impact on innovation, organisational performance and employee satisfaction. This requires leaders who prioritise being positive and exuding a positive, upbeat energy in order to maintain enthusiasm in their team, even when things get difficult.

This entails holding a steadfast belief that challenges will be overcome, no matter the circumstances. It's about trusting that as a team, you will navigate obstacles and pave a way forward. Embracing the reality that setbacks will occur, yet refusing to let negative occurrences deter your progress.

Maintaining a mindset of positivity and hopefulness, you seek out the lessons in setbacks and use them to clarify your goals. It involves being open to questioning your assumptions with humility, and being willing to adapt and refine your approach when things don't go as planned.

Is it easy?

Hell, no.

It requires trust. It requires belief. It requires steadfast focus that no matter what happens we have done our best. And it requires internal transformation. Few of us are born this way.

As human beings we struggle to feel good about ourselves. Our work. Our effort. We always feel that when things go wrong, we are being punished or that we aren't good enough. We have knee-jerk reactions that throw us into panic. 

And that's where inspired optimism comes in.

Inspired optimism is when we view all conditions as beneficial. Changing conditions, obstacles and moving targets are seen as opportunities to learn, adapt and grow.

Inspired optimism requires being willing to address both failure and success, rather than the typical leadership approach of favouring one over the other. Consequently, it generates high levels of psychological safety, because errors and concerns are openly discussed, ensuring the team can course correct and avert a potential crisis.

This approach fosters a sense of empowerment within your team, reassuring them that they have the capability to achieve anything. By remaining flexible and open to change, you demonstrate a willingness to adapt your plans as needed. When faced with challenges, your primary focus will be on finding solutions rather than assigning blame.

Encouraging a collaborative approach to addressing issues, you prevent the burden from falling solely on a select few individuals, fostering a sense of unity and shared responsibility within the team.

Inspired Optimism is not about Relentless Positivity

In my interactions with leadership teams, I often encounter executives who radiate positivity and enthusiasm for the company's vision, sparking a contagious energy that motivates employees towards their shared goals.

These leaders actively seek out fresh ideas and innovative approaches from their team members, celebrating milestones like securing a new client with genuine excitement. Their corporate communications are infused with an optimistic glow making their employees feel fuzzy and warm inside.

However, there is a hidden downside to this unwavering positivity: a reluctance to address issues that are not going as planned. Missed targets are glossed over, and discussions on what's not working are avoided. This phenomenon, known as blind optimism or blind positivity, can gradually lead to a toxic work culture within the company.

Toxic positivity perpetuates the unrealistic belief that simply maintaining a positive mindset can solve any problem, disregarding the underlying issues within the organisation. It places the burden on individuals to cope within a flawed system, neglecting the importance of empathy, compassion, and honest communication in addressing the true challenges faced by employees to meet the vision.

How to lead with Inspired Optimism

For more than a year, I've been working on myself to lead with inspired optimism. I've worked on feeling inspired and optimistic, even when things weren't great around me. 
I'm proud to say that I am very different to how I was a year ago (or even three months ago). I don't let negative situations derail me, I recover quickly from issues and I see the upside faster than before.
Am I there yet? No. I realise it's a lifelong journey. I dedicate around two hours of my day to staying in inspired optimism. Yep. Two hours. That's not a typo.
Before you freak out, that two hours is spread throughout the day. Although, most of it is focused in the early hours of the morning.
It's all about starting the day in a positive mindset. This involves spending time in gratitude, doing a future envisioning process, meditating, setting positive expectations and doing things that bring me joy. In my case, that's being out in nature, listening to music and running/dancing.
What is most important is doing whatever I can to feel good. I don't watch the news, I steadfastly avoid people who want to complain (which is tricky when you have teenagers 😂) and I have some good processes to use when I start to feel the wobbles.
The second step with staying in inspired optimism is changing your beliefs. That's key and takes a lot of pratice. It means reframing the negative responses we are so accustomed to using. When you feel good, it's easier to change your beliefs and develop a tolerance for ambiguity. This requires knowing your triggers and changing your reactions. That's been something that has really changed how I view life in every minute.
Of course, it's really hard to change alone. I have an accountability partner to talk to when things get overwhelming. A guide who helps me through the tough times.
If you are wondering how to keep yourself in inspired optimism, I have the shortcuts you need.
That's why I have created a new community for high performers who want to be in inspired optimism to sustain high performance during change.
It's called The Achievement Zone and includes monthly leadership lounges, reflections, actions and accountability sessions. It's for leaders who want best practices, a community of learning and who strive to bring their best to their work.
I am offering huge one-off pre-release discounts for June only starting at $47 a month (RRP $97 a month) and some exclusive bonuses of up to $250 in value. You can find out more here.