The Optimistic Leader


Everything will not always go according to plan in your organisation, especially in these unprecedented and challenging times. Teams are still grappling with learning new skill sets and adapting to complex ways of working, while leaders need to ensure that they provide a fertile space for employees to thrive. This is where effective leadership is most important and becomes a defining factor for successful organisations.  

Effective leadership involves a combination of having the correct support structures and having the fundamental principles in place to build and lead effective teams, namely: 

  1. Showing up, being present, being real and listening.   
  2. Setting and communicating the vision.   
  3. Practising daily communication, listening and repeating.   
  4. Trusting each other to achieve something that leads to success.   
  5. Implementing constant feedback.  
  6. Having tough conversations.   

But the question is always – how?  How do you do all of this when you are tired but still need to motivate others. Despite all that you may face in the workplace, there are everyday factors like petrol price increases, to travel red lists, to more serious elements like Covid that are impacting our lives. Over the past 2 years, there has been a massive number of changes and adjustments which adds to our stress. So how does effective leadership continue day in and day out?  How do we keep motivated and keep in high spirits within our teams? The answer is simple: implement optimistic leadership.

If we look at any meaning of it, it describes the following:  

  • Hope and confidence. 
  • The secret sauce of entrepreneurs.  
  • Achievement as a foundation and courage for true progress. 

Be Positive, Even When You Fail  

When we think of optimism, pessimism, when to be realistic and how resilience plays a role in this, it sometimes feels like it is about being one or the other. It is crucial to understand that you will have all of these in your day-to-day interactions: 

  1. You will feel overly optimistic that a team will close a deal, or a project will land early. 
  2. You will feel pessimistic (have negative feelings) on a project if the data is not as expected. 
  3. You will plan and set realistic goals with your teams. 
  4. You will have a tough project and need to dig deep to be resilient.  

You will have all of these emotions and experiences but what is important, is for leaders to have an overall view of optimism and resilience.  You are going to be tested and have tough times, but you should keep positive and know that you will make it. It may not always be your expected outcome, but because of the learnings along the way, you will become a great leader.   

Finding Your Balance: Optimism and Resilience  

Optimism assists you to build resilience, providing you with the right level of protection from the challenges and anxieties of the workplace. Having resilience means your capacity to recover from adversity is at an all-time high and that you are able to adapt when faced with stress.  

How you handle situations matters.  You may have a tough project and due to its nature, expect it to fail.  But true leadership is about being optimistic that you can put plans into place to get them over the line or even walk away from a potential client, if it is in the best interest of your organisation.   

This is where resilience comes into play. True resilience is about: 

  1. Relationships – seeing that other people matter. 
  2. Meaning – seeing your career as a calling and having a purpose. 
  3. Achievement – setting goals and having the grit to achieve them. 
  4. Vitality – looking after yourself emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. 
  5. Positivity – having self-compassion and expressing gratitude. 
  6. Engagement – being mindful of others and building strengths. 

Optimism and resilience work so well together that when you bring realism and positivity together, to create something that works, it creates a new mindset and brings new possibilities. Positivity is not about sunshine and rainbows and puppies. It is about being realistic about a situation and acting in a way that achieves the best possible outcome while learning.    

Why Is Optimistic Leadership Encouraged? 

If you want to be a great leader then consider becoming an optimistic leader. This will guarantee you the success of the leadership you aspire to. Here are 5 reasons why:  

  1. Optimists want to solve problems and improve things instead of focusing on the issues.  It is about expressing creativity and promoting innovative thinking. 
  2. Optimists are not afraid of failing. They put coping strategies into place, are more resilient and bounce back quickly from failures, and apply lessons learnt. 
  3. Optimists are awesome communicators and motivators as they share their vision and take people along the journey with them. 
  4. Optimists are big picture thinkers and consider the consequences of now and in the future. 
  5. Positive behaviour is infectious and leads to better collaboration within teams. 


Optimistic leadership, together with resilience, allows leaders to develop strong relationships, manage stress, lead with grit, find a purpose, and be authentic. Reflecting over the last year, optimism has stood out and is a reason why businesses have survived and thrived in these uncertain times. It shapes and focuses your mindset on solutions, communication, collaboration, behavior, and ultimately, success.   

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