I know everyone is talking about how much the world has changed in the last few weeks. It has, but we’ve been in the tumult of a change and uncertainty for a while now.
Economies and businesses have been seeing declining numbers for the last year, or more, certain asset classes have been performing poorly, leverages held by banks on business owners’ assets haven’t been doing well… a lot has been taking a generally downward direction with the exception of the obvious equity markets.
As a result, there’s been an eruption of negative chatter all around. People are reacting to their specific situations, circulating their experiences and ‘scary’ messages through social media, and everyone’s wrapping the blankets around themselves tighter because the proverbial financial ‘winter is coming.’
I make it an active choice to stay out of that stream of negativity. I isolate, tune out, and tune into more positive messaging and content. I’m often immersed in an audiobook or a podcast learning about something new.
I also try to surround myself with optimists.
But there’s something I’ve noticed (because I can’t afford to tune out entirely!) You can perhaps get away with being a pessimistic follower, but a pessimistic leader? No way.
Pessimism is probably the surest way to run a company into the ground. You see, the impact of negativity coming from a leader is far more contagious. Leaders lead – they set examples, they are at the front of the pack, they take the stage, they lead meetings and conversations.
If leaders lead fueled by a dooming pessimism, then that is going to carry far and wide, to every corner of an organization.
Whether it’s the COVID-19 crisis that we find ourselves in today, a crumbling economy, or anything else, a leader’s negative mindset creates an adverse effect on every stakeholder of a business, from team members to creditors, suppliers, even competitors and worse – clients.
Let’s say you head a sales department of about 200 salespeople. Times are tough, sure, but to make things harder, you start every meeting reminding your 200-strong team of just that fact – times are tough, guys, you all need to be pulling your weight!
Your words land with a negative impact that isn’t just heavy at that moment; it’s much worse. That negativity is compounding. With every ‘no’ that a salesperson faces out there, your words are going to burn deeper.
Before you know it, they’ll be slouching in the shoulders and selling without any passion or conviction.
The result is a clientele and a market that loses confidence in your products and services, and we all know that is the beginning of another vicious cycle.
So, with everything that we are going through now, and through all the ups and downs that are to come, I have a word of advice to anyone who stands as a leader:
Find a way to be optimistic and positive. Focus on the wins, as small as they may be.
Times will change, there is an opportunity in every challenge, and you have to be the one to have the foresight to see it.
That’s your job as a leader.