On Leadership and Optimism: Being Prepared


Most people refer to themselves as either an optimist or as a pessimist. While leading other people, it is not only important to be an optimist, but it is crucial to be a prepared optimist

The problem with leadership in this world isn’t that leaders are pessimists or optimists, it’s that leaders are not prepared on what to do when the proverbial “half-full glass” runs dry.

optimism  [op-tuh-miz-uh m]

The Merrim-Webster online dictionary defines optimism as:

an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome

So being an optimist, in essence, is having positive thinking that things will turn out for the better. This in turn, influences your decisions, mindset, and actions. Positive thinking gives you confidence to act with your decisions, which usually takes stress off the decision-making process, and makes tasks easier.

Being an optimist is not only about having forward thinking, it is also about being a smart leader.

Being Prepared

Smart leaders realize that while being optimistic is crucial, they also need to be prepared for anything and everything that is reasonable to expect. There is a reason why the Boy Scouts motto is “Be Prepared.” This is because their motto actually works!

Leaders should be prepared for anything: To change a technique; To adapt to new situation, And to try new things.

There are several distinct aspects and advantages of be a smart, optimistic leader:

  • They cultivate all possible options
  • Leaders are confident in their abilities and the abilities of others around them
  • Being prepared gives you a distinct advantage to solve problems and resolve conflicts
Smart leaders realize they need to think out and plan ahead of time, while also having a positive attitude towards their situation.

It Does Translate into Success

Half Empty or Half Full?When smart leaders have positive thinking and an optimistic mindset, they know where they are going and how to get there.

This is how they overcome failure.

It would make sense that a pessimist would become discouraged after many tries, but positive thinkers push ahead through failures. And this is how positive thinking translates into success for a leader.

Thomas Edison was optimistic about his lightbulb invention, and that is why he tried so many times to successfully develop it.

As clichéd as it is, Edison demonstrates how positive thinkers try and try again, only to fail, but all it takes is one success to make a difference.

Whether you are a manager of a company or a struggling entrepreneur, positive thinking is the best long-term plan for success.

What You Can Do

The great thing about leadership, is that your leading all the time. You can implement new ideas and change all the time.

  • Be prepared for change
  • Have the confidence to act
  • Turn failures into learning opportunities and success

Whether you see the glass as half-full or half-empty, what matters is what you are going to do when the glass tips over and spills. Are you a pessimist or an optimist, and why? Has positive thinking gotten you anywhere? Are you prepared for anything as a leader? What tools do you use to be prepared?

Will Lutterman is a student and writer at St. Olaf College
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6 responses to “On Leadership and Optimism: Being Prepared

  1. Hi Will,

    Loved the blog and wholeheartedly agree with the concept. I’m an NLP amateur but again there’s a lot of great evidence that your perceptions will affect your behaviours and ultimately the outcomes of things you do.

    As you say, leaders have the added dimension of having to ‘lead’ and subtle changes in the leader’s mood will have an exaggerated affect on their team so I’m off to top up my glass thanks yo your blog.

    Have a great day!



    • I totally agree. Your perceptions and view of the world radically alter your leading, and ultimately decide your path in leading. The mood of the leader dictates how the group sways, and whether the group is on the path to success or not.

      Thanks for the comment!


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