Are you more Optimistic than your team?

| July 26, 2011

The higher up you go in an organisation the more resilience and optimism you will find, because it is these traits that get people promoted in the first place. 

All roles have a minimum level of experience, skills and education needed to adequately perform the role, but once that minimum is there, higher levels of those factors don’t differentiate people’s performance – it is resilience that makes the difference. 

Resilience refers to a person’s ability to handle adversity and bounce back from set-backs.

The fact that you find more resilience and optimism further up the organisation hierarchy, means it is common to have managers with more optimism than their reports. What you often see in this case is managers confident and excited by their vision, and then frustrated when the team don’t seem to be able to execute when the solutions seem obvious. 

The staff sees the manager as overly optimistic and don’t believe the goals are achievable.

Resilience is particularly important over the long term. It is what helps people to sustain their performance, and continue to succeed when the going gets tough. Many can ride along on a growth-wave, but in a crisis all the factors that a person needs for resilience are needed to a greater level in a shorter timeframe – so what one might slowly learn over some years otherwise, they need to have right now.  Fortune magazine and Hay Group’s research into the “World’s Most Admired Companies” indicates that it is resilience that enables these organisations to sustain their performance over time.

Although people inherently have more or less resilience, it can actually be learned and improved.  Drs Andrew Shatté and Karen Reivich from Adaptiv Learning have broken Resilience into 7 factors which help individuals understand what resilience looks like in every day life.  In partnership with Hay Group they have tools for individuals to test these factors and learn how to improve them.  The seven factors are:

  1. Emotion Regulation

  2. Impulse Control

  3. Causal Analysis

  4. Self-Efficacy

  5. Realistic Optimism

  6. Empathy

  7. Reaching Out

The GFC was a crisis time that showed up leaders missing some key factors.  What evidence did you see of this in leaders near to you when times became uncertain?


Charlotte Park is Hay Group’s managing director of reward information services in Asia.