Is the pandemic testing your optimism?
Leading through a pandemic is an enormous challenge. To get to the other side, leaders need to leverage their influence skills to
- set the emotional tone for their team
- lead into unchartered territory
- provide the information people need in a way they will hear it
The ability to influence has never been more critical, and optimism is an essential tool for leading your team through a pandemic.
Optimists focus on the positive and have a general belief in their ability to get through adversity, allowing them to see opportunities others may not. Optimists don’t ignore negativity. They accept and face adversity head on and focus on finding ways to overcome it.
There is no denying that COVID-19 brought with it a long list of negatives. Ignoring them or downplaying them can hurt your credibility and erode trust. When leaders demonstrate that they hear and understand the adversity and challenges their teams experience and help them see a path through it, people are more likely to begin moving forward again.
Optimism helps protect against stress and the illness that can accompany it. It facilitates problem-solving and serves as a catalyst for taking action and moving more quickly through setbacks and change. People are experiencing pressure from all around them, and many are experiencing debilitating levels of stress. Leaders who model optimism will increase their team’s ability to manage that stress, solve the seemingly endless challenges 2020 continues to throw at us, and ultimately bounce back.
There are three beliefs optimists share that help them lead their teams through adversity. Do any of these resonate with you?
1. Adversity is temporary
Optimists view adversity as temporary rather than permanent. For example, an optimistic response to a sharp drop in revenue would be:
“The pandemic hit us hard. We’ve gotten through hard times before, and we’ll do it again. We’ll need to get creative to do it, so let’s dig deep and develop new ways to create a customer experience that will wow them during the pandemic.”
Optimists expect that they will find a way to change their situation for the better and keep looking until they find it. The pandemic, like any other setback or even tragedy, won’t last forever. Reminding your team of this can help them keep moving forward.
2. Positivity should be amplified
Optimists generalize positive experiences and isolate negative ones. For example, an optimistic response to seeing even a small indication of resilience on the team would be:
“That’s the attitude we need. We are a resilient team, and we’ll bounce back stronger than ever.”
An optimistic response to an adversity would be:
“There’s no doubt that it was a rough week. This change threw us, and it showed. Remember, it was just one week. We made some mistakes, and we learned from them. Let’s apply those lessons and end the month on a high note.”
There are plenty of negatives everywhere people look right now. Help your team find and generalize the positives, so they see those too.
3. Hope is essential
Even amid adversity, optimists have a general belief that good things will happen and that their actions will lead to positive outcomes. They always have hope.
A leader’s ability to instill hope during difficult times is priceless. Without hope, people become apathetic. Give your team reasons to be hopeful, even if the current situation is difficult. Hope energizes people. As long as there’s hope for a better future, there is motivation to continue to try to get there.
Optimism is just one characteristic that will help you influence and ultimately lead your team through any adversity.
If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to look at our online, self-paced course,
Rising to the Challenge: Leading Through Crisis.