One trick to maintaining a resilient team

In Self by A. Geoffrey Crane

Team members can be surprisingly resilient and often continue to perform even under extreme duress. If they sense their leader feels hopeless about a particular objective, however, they may start to question why they are putting so much effort into a futile cause. As long as there is a chance you can succeed, then, It is very important to maintain a sense of optimism, despite the occasional setback.

Not everyone is naturally optimistic—because of the constant challenges that leaders often face, many even become pessimists over time. We can acquire (or re-acquire) optimism, however, through specific changes in how we explain events. According to Seligman (2011), there are three main approaches to this explanatory style:

Permanence: Optimistic people will tend to view positive events as evidence that a particular trait is permanent and view negative events as temporary “glitches”.

Pervasiveness: Optimists will explain positive events as evidence of a universal truth and negative events as evidence of a specific exception.

Personalization: Optimistic people will describe positive events as evidence of an internal trait whereas they will see negative events as evidence of some unhappy aspect of their environment.

The benefits of an optimistic disposition extend beyond having a good story to tell your staff members. Optimists generally recognize opportunities that others do not and therefore tend to be very high achievers. Further, optimistic people tend to enjoy much better physical and mental health than their negativistic counterparts.

The diagrams above explore the different explanatory styles mentioned above. Optimistic and pessimistic approaches to each of these styles appear side by side for easy reference. Spend a moment comparing these dispositions. How would you choose to look at these examples? Could you find a way to adopt an optimistic outlook in your own life?

Photo by robzand


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