“In order to achieve greatness, you must create a culture of optimism. There will be many ups and downs, but the prevalence of positivity will keep the company going. But be warned: This requires fearlessness. You have to truly believe in making the impossible possible.’
Jason Harris, CEO, Mekanism
Recently while writing about the importance of a leader to be stoic, I touched on the difficulty of balancing honesty and transparency about the situation you are facing, while also not being overly optimistic.
Maintaining positivity and being optimistic in difficult situations isn’t being naive or operating with rose-colored glasses. Quite the contrary. Having a certain amount of positivity allows a leader to take stock of where the challenges lie and enable them to communicate the positive aspects of a given situation even in the most difficult of circumstances. It’s during these sometimes challenging times that a true leader can frame the conversation in terms of overcoming challenges and making the best of difficult situations that can bring a team closer together and move them closer to a victory rather than a defeat.
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England during World War II, showed this type of positivity in the face of difficult circumstances when he gave a radio address shortly after the defeat and rescue of almost the entire British Expeditionary Forces at Dunkirk. An excerpt from his, “Fight on the Beaches” speech is below:
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..
This is what we mean when we say a leader has to exhibit positivity to be an effective leader. They don’t dwell on the negative or lay blame on others as scapegoats. No, they look for the light in the darkness and make sure that it shines through even during the darkest of times and darkest of hours. These are the leaders that we look to in difficult situations to bring out the best in us and rally us to fight another day despite the odds being against us.