Lead with Optimism

Project managers are leaders. You’re responsible for leading your team and your project, and to some extent your stakeholders as well. There are many different leadership styles out there, but one of the most effective options for PMs is to lead with optimism. What does that mean and what does it offer? It takes a little explaining to really drill down to the bedrock here, but you’ll learn more below.
Optimism vs. Pessimism
Are you a glass half-empty sort of person? Lots of folks are. In your private life, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, in a leadership position, your pessimism will leach into your team and color their perceptions of the project and even you as the project manager. Even the most optimistic team member will have trouble staying optimistic in the face of a pessimistic leader.
Optimism vs. Aggression
Aggressive management techniques have long been touted as some of the most effective. However, there are a few good reasons to consider ditching your outright or passive aggressive methods for optimism. First, while aggressive management certainly helps you get things done, it can also rub many team members the wrong way. A lot of people dislike abrasive, pushy leaders, and that’s often how you come off if you lead in an aggressive manner.
When Bad Situations Arise
Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll experience a negative situation or two during your project. Hopefully, those are minor and short-lived, but you’ll still need to deal with them. Handling them in an aggressive way might seem like the right move, but it’s not, particularly if you’re being pushy toward team members who are also having to deal with the negative repercussions of the problem. Optimism works better, and it can also help foster a better sense of teamwork and even offer hope to team members downtrodden by whatever negative event happened. Hope is important. Teamwork is vital.
If you’re a negative-style manager (pessimism), you’ll find that your mode of operation here actually makes things worse. Even if you’re trying to correct the situation, your management method will make your team members negative, which makes forward progress difficult, if not impossible. Optimistic management methods, on the other hand, infect your team members with optimism and a sense that anything can be accomplished.
Why Do You Need an Optimistic Team?
Why does having an optimistic team matter? It actually impacts a great deal within your project. A sense of optimism leads to the feeling that your team can do anything, as mentioned. That’s important, because it can be easy to become discouraged if problems mount during your project. Optimism equates to better performance under pressure. In short, your team will be more effective and your project more successful.
Leading with optimism is important, but it can be difficult to do. Take the time to evaluate your management style. Do you let problems and setbacks turn your outlook negative? Do you then transfer that outlook to your team? If so, you might be sabotaging your own success.

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