Optimists wanted. Experience not required. Apply virtually.
Once upon a time committed shareholders went to the harbor to see their ship sail. And then, much, much later, they went to the harbor to see if it had come in. In between sailing and berthing, they lived patiently with the risk they had taken. They had no option.
Today, many of us live with risk all around us. But no longer patiently. That ship has sailed. Soon we will reach the stage when we will no longer recognize our ship when it comes in.
Thank goodness there are still leaders who wear cloaks of positivity as they optimistically scan the horizon. Welcome to the harbor.
The glare that will not see your ship come in
Wherever I look, I see one group glaring at another. Is this competition in action or nonsense at work? Well, that depends on the stakes and the stakeholders. When these are similar for both groups, then we have a problem.
When Charles Darwin reached the islands around Cape Horn, the locals ignored his ship. As a group, these islanders did not believe that something that big could float, therefore it could not and did not exist.
They shared a common perception of reality, which made it easier to understand one another. But it meant that they ignored the same threats and missed the same opportunities.
Even educated groups today suffer these consequences of groupthink. They see the same old same old, naively increasing the stakes, but not the benefits, to their stakeholders.
They too will not see their ship come in.
Because, as Darwin warned, it is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent, who survive, but the ones most adaptable.
Encourage your pet optimist
It’s open season on negativity. Or maybe not.
I once suggested that you encourage your pet pessimist. Pessimists enhance decision making by balancing overconfident optimists. (See “Encourage your pet pessimist.”)
Now I ask the opposite. Do you have a pet optimist at work? Today, every organization needs at least one.
Apologize to your optimists for all those times when you played Little Boy Blue to their Little Miss Sunshine. Now ask for their help. Explain that you realize how badly we all need a fully functioning happy face at work. Someone who knows the art of picking people up and getting them back to work, energized and believing in a better tomorrow.
Admit it. You need help. Trying to be the strong one has drained and exhausted you. You’ve become a pessimistic leader, a walking, talking oxymoron.
Lead with your cloak of protective, positive energy
Time was when taking work home did not mean taking your work home, the way we do today with always on mobile devices. It meant that you carried your work stress and bad mood home, which you then took out on the family dog.
Hence the fable of the businessman who became a family man at night by hanging his cloak of work worries over a bush at his front door. Yes, he put the cloak back on the next morning.
But what about taking family worries to work? Is it even possible to put them down? (It might be easier to shrug off work stress at home than to ignore family pain while at work.)
And yet, a leader must do so because a leader can never not lead. You lead by what you do and by what you don’t do, making your moods visible and contagious. Savvy leaders protect their colleagues and the organization by wearing a cloak of positive energy when at work.
(If not a cloak, then at least Pick a Mask, Any Mask, even if you have a bush at your office door.)
Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.