The Connection Between Optimism and Achievement

July 13, 2020

There was a great piece in Harvard Business Review last week about the value of leading with optimism—especially in hard times. The article focused on the importance of demonstrating to staff the clear connection between positive energy and organizational achievements. This concept rings true for me.

There is no doubt that there have been many times when staff from across The Fedcap Group have struggled and been discouraged by the changes resulting from the pandemic. Through Staff Surveys, Brown Bag Lunches, Focus Groups and regular e-mail communications, I have heard staff concerns about loss of connection, fear of getting sick, and sadness at not being able to see clients and family. I sought to buoy their spirits by communicating a strong sense of purpose and optimism in the future. And I am optimistic. While I am deeply saddened by the loss of life, and troubled by the many small businesses struggling to keep afloat, I do feel that we will come out of this stronger, wiser and more resilient.

The best leaders that I know are intentional in their communications, helping staff see the connection between the direct line between their resilience and organizational successes. Strong leaders are able to describe in compelling terms the ways that challenges can strengthen an organization and evolve its collective thinking about all that is possible, regardless of the circumstances. They strive to inspire a sense of urgency in the work and a renewed strength of purpose that what we do every single day matters.

Highly effective leaders have a transforming effect, and the ability to bring staff to a place of achievement well beyond what they thought was possible. Their optimism is inspirational and contagious –enabling staff to overcome their fears and develop the resolve to achieve.

In one of my favorite books, The Wisdom of the Ego, Dr. George E Vaillant, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, describes individuals who have “both the capacity to be bent without breaking and the capacity, once bent, to spring back.’” That seems to be one of the gifts a leader can give to staff, role modeling this all-important capacity to bend without breaking and to spring back stronger.

As always I welcome your thoughts.