Is your business a beacon of positivity? Is your leadership positive?

| December 2, 2021

The post-Covid 2020s demands realistic and infectiously optimistic leadership. And the leader looks like the person in your mirror.

That leader is not the person speaking loudly from the podium telling others why they should be optimistic. Instead, it’s the leader who can unlock the optimism in the team to power sales, innovation, sound strategy and resilience.

Do you know what makes your team members optimistic? Have you ever asked them?

I lead The Centre for Optimism, the offspring of The Australian Leadership Project.

The Australian Leadership Project was formed in 2015 when I observed increasing negativity in conversations on leadership. I’m not talking about political leadership – political leadership is mocked in every country.

What surprised me was that “The leadership is lousy” is almost a throw-away Aussie line – it’s them that’s at fault, not me.

There is a powerful and positive stereotype of Australians in general and Australian leadership in sectors like water, mining, agriculture, biotechnology and medicine. For example, the Chair of one of the world’s largest corporations told me, “You Aussies remind me of the Americans of 100 years ago; nothing is impossible.”

Working as a trade commissioner in the Americas and later as an adviser to the G20 presidency, the stereotype made my work easier. Telling someone you wanted to talk about the Australian story opened the doors to the Chair’s suite.

When you open the leadership tracts globally, there are hundreds of ideas on what makes a good leader. Our interest wasn’t in copying those; it was understanding what makes the global stereotype of the good Australian leader.

So, what did we find?

After thousands of interviews and research shared by experts, we concluded that a combination of traits makes the Australian leader: Egalitarianism, self-effacing humour, and no bullshit plain speaking.

Know someone like that? You?

Then along came COVID: Hopefully a once in a century pandemic. People locked up at home, governments and media dispensing an Orwellian message of fear of your strangers, neighbours and even family.

The research shows that people want to move beyond fear and want optimism and hope. They want that optimism from their storytellers; they want it from their leaders.

Four Things to Try for the Next Week

Smile More: Smile and say hello to everyone you pass. It works for the Dalai Lama!

Ask, “What makes you Optimistic? Then, put it on the agenda for your next exec, sales and board meetings – you’ll be surprised at how few people get their optimism from work.

Dump the Swear Jar: Replace it with the “But Jar.” Not “buts”, just “and”.

Change Your Greeting:  In Australia, if you say “Hello, how are you?” the chances are they will say “Not Bad” or “Not too bad.” Wasted questions and wasted answers. For the next week, try getting rid of “How are you? and replace it with “Hello. What’s been the best thing in your day?” or whatever comes naturally to you. In our experience, it generates a story of hope and optimism most of the time. A smile on your dial and the person sharing it with you. If it works for you, what about your front-of-house team?


How does your business foster positive leadership?

Post a comment on First 5000 – Have your Say on LinkedIn today or email with your story.


One Comment

  1. Avatar

    Kay Clancy

    December 6, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Optimism is a conscious practice and its ripple is far reaching. Great, easy to adopt practices here.
    The ripple starts with the person in your mirror.