In times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to become the optimistic leader your team needs. Optimistic leaders are best when they are able to balance positivity while remaining grounded in reality.
As the Covid-19 pandemic impacts small businesses across the globe, those able to remain focused on their vision will prevail and embrace the strongest bounce backs. As difficult as it may be, optimism is an intelligent approach to reframing how you think about business.
Optimistic leaders with a solution-based approach motivate teams, promote creativity and innovative thinking, and show confidence in the future despite setbacks.
I had the chance to connect with four leaders navigating their businesses amid the pandemic. Here's what they had to say about optimistic leadership.
Surround yourself with smart, positive people.
During times of uncertainty, it is important you surround yourself with smart, positive people. According to Chris McCuiston, CEO of Goldfish Swim School, "Whether it is to bounce ideas off of one another, discuss challenges and opportunities, or share different viewpoints and experiences, these conversations can provide real benefits as you learn together and work to navigate through this pandemic."
Use facts to support positivity
During a crisis it's critical to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Yet, you can still foster a positive attitude with your team and provide them with the tools they need to overcome setbacks.
"You want to prevent them from going down a rabbit hole of doom and gloom, but also be careful not to be excessive with optimism to where it feels inauthentic," says Thomas E. Wolfe, President & CEO of Ziebart.
He explains that leaders should state real facts and data wherever possible to backup up their positive statements about the future. Another tactic Wolfe uses to help the Ziebart franchise system and employees remain optimistic is to share the goodwill stories of Ziebart helping first responders and others in their communities through a weekly newsletter.
Susan Boresow, President of TITLE Boxing Club, says leading in this time needs to be a combination of supporting, inspiring and empowering your team.
"Leaders must continue to be highly engaged with everyone on their team, even those who don't report directly to them traditionally," she explains. "You have to connect with your team on all levels, both personally and professionally and take extra time and listen to them."
Boresow adds that you must maintain your company's culture and continue traditions. "We would ring a boxing bell in the office when big milestones or accomplishments are met. That is vital to the positive culture of TITLE Boxing Club. Now, we do that over Slack."
Make new connections.
"I find it incredibly helpful to not only reach out to others but expand my network even further during challenging times," shared Ken Hutcheson, president of U.S. Lawns. "Making new connections by engaging with leaders outside of your normal circle of business friends will likely help you gain a broader, more global view of today's crisis."
Hutcheson also explained that hearing other perspectives -- negative and positive -- and learning of different ways other leaders outside of your industry are handling themselves and the situation at hand will help you to perfect your own. "The high-level knowledge sharing will also help you to look past the crisis to build a vision for the future, which is critical. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. So, acknowledge today's reality, form your vision of tomorrow and, most importantly, share your vision with the teams you lead."