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Optimism, Pessimism and Realism – And Why These Matter

Published March 5, 2018

How do you see the world? It’s a simple question with a complex answer. While some of us tend to look at things positively, others develop an obsession with pointing out the negative aspects of everything. Then there are those who are neither optimists nor pessimists – but they are realists. These people focus on living in the now with no fear of what the future holds for them or what went by in the past.

Optimists and realists both work differently. Many researcher’s studies suggest that optimists not only outlive pessimists, they are generally satisfied with their lives. Optimists tend to make more money and have fulfilling relationships with their loved ones. But here’s the question: How do optimists, pessimists and realists fare in the workplace?

Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” This rings especially true when studying how managers and entrepreneurs enter the fast-paced corporate world.

Optimist, Pessimist or Realist – Who Makes a Better Leader?
As a manager, you’re the leader of your team. You’re required to display a positive outlook to keep the employees engaged and satisfied with the company. A research study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that optimistic managers tend to help their employees reach their goals and be more productive. Also, optimistic managers are more approachable pleasant, and their enthusiasm can be contagious.

Another cross-sectional study at an IT company involving 86 employees and 17 managers concluded the positive leadership had a strong correlation with employee engagement, optimism, and work performance.

However, sometimes optimism may do more harm than good if you never take off your rose-colored glasses. It can easily lead to unrealistic expectations from employees, overestimation and wrong judgment calls based on assumptions.

Realists, on the other hand, are best suited for managerial roles because they have a balanced view on things. They don’t give up hope easily, but at the same time, they know how to make calculated decisions after thoroughly reviewing the situations’ facts and figures.

Here are some tips you can follow to become a realistic manager.

– When finding a solution to any problem, seek feedback from all the parties involved and affected.

– When deciding the best course of action, always think of how your decision will affect the people around you. Sometimes you may find that your decision may have a higher cost than the impact it will have on your people.

– It is important to reflect on your failures and successes from time to time. Learn from the mistakes in the past and use this knowledge to realistically guide the future.

– Acknowledge that having absolute control over all the factors in your environment is almost always impossible. There will always be knowns and unknowns that bring about a rapid change in the environment. You cannot always stay one step ahead, sometimes you just must play catch-up.

I hope you find this blog useful in understanding how optimism, pessimism and realism affect you in the workplace.

Want to know more on how to improve your Optimism, Pessimism and Realism in the workplace? We would be excited to give you our best ideas. Please Click here to connect with one of Magna Leadership’s advisors. https://magnaleader.co/MeetMagna

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