Optimistic Leadership in the Age of Uncertainty

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People thrive on positive reinforcement – nothing feels better than receiving a compliment for a job well done. What about those little day-to-day tasks that keep things flowing smoothly, though? Those are often forgotten in the shuffle, but the reality is these deserve acknowledgment just as much as the big accomplishments. What does this have to do with anything? Learn how optimistic leadership can help you and your team.

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Optimistic Leadership: Tell Them and Mean It

Your job for the rest of 2021 is to get into the habit of showing appreciation (authentically) to your coworkers. This will require you to actively seek out things that they are doing well. If your assistant does a stellar job, tell them so! Did your boss nail that difficult negotiation? Let them know it was awesome! Do you work remotely or have perhaps the toughest job of all – stay-at-home parent? No problem! Show gratitude to the front desk person, to the folks in the mailroom, or to the helpful sales clerk who went the extra mile. These verbal reinforcements not only give them a little boost they may have needed, but you will actively be showing your gratitude for a job well done, whatever that may be.

Optimistic Leadership: Make it a habit

When you get in the habit of acknowledging these positive acts, you, yourself, will find that you feel better about your life and how full it is rather than focusing on the things you don’t have. There’s something to be said for the power of positive thoughts and actions. Try to show your gratitude toward your coworkers at least two or three times a week. After a week, you’ll find you’re doing it more and more without even thinking about it. That’s the power of gratitude. It’s self-perpetuating. It’s an acquired taste but one that they will get used to.

On a side note, be spontaneous and have a little fun

Everyone wants to have fun at work – even though everyone defines “fun” a little differently. Fun happens when people feel well-connected with a team where there’s mutual respect, open communication, acceptance of who people are, and everyone’s collaborating and working toward the same goal. When teams are working well together, it makes it easier to be spontaneous and have some fun – whether it’s a last-minute Football Friday party after a project launch, or a brief pause in the afternoon to tell stories and have a few laughs over topics that have nothing to do about work. Sometimes we all need a break from the seriousness of business.

Optimistic Leadership: Some Ways to Show Employees How Much You Really Care

Boss for the day

Let an employee be “Boss for the Day” and proclaim a jeans day, potluck, or make a speech at a team meeting.

Lunch with the Boss

Take your employees out to lunch and let them choose the location. Do your best to keep work-related discussions to a minimum. Take this time to get to know more about what your employees’ interests and hobbies are beyond their work lives.

Impromptu Time Off

Spontaneous late arrival or early departure days are always a motivator. For example, send a quick email that says, “It’s a beautiful afternoon. Go enjoy it.”

Time Off Coupons

Give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off as a spot award. Employees can collect them to add up to leaving an hour early one day or coming in late one day.

Work-from-Home Day

Remember significant events in your employees’ personal lives, such as a child starting kindergarten, and give them a work-from-home day so they can participate without worrying about coming into the office on time.

Indoor Food Truck (when you are back in the office)

On a hot day, have the leadership team go around the office with a cart handing out ice cream (e.g., Klondike bars, ice cream sandwiches, etc.). On a cold day, have them push around a “Cocoa Cart,” serving hot chocolate to the team.

Cookies for a Cause

For an employee who’s an active volunteer, have specially shaped cookies made and delivered with a thank-you card. The shapes should reflect the cause the employee cares about. For instance, if the employee volunteers with military veterans, the cookies might be in the shape of stars and flags.

Winter Fun in the Office

Put on a season of “Summer Fun” from Valentine’s Day to Labor Day, where everyone is in for a drawing of a sleep-in day, long lunch, or early release. Each week, winners are announced, and everyone usually “wins” something twice per summer.

Devin Hughes headshot
Devin C. Hughes

Devin C. Hughes is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach, and an internationally recognized expert in the science of happiness, organizational/culture change and leadership development. He lectured and worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies, as well as the Secret Service, the IRS, and an assortment of profit and nonprofit organizations. Devin is the author of 20 books and has lectured in more than 15 countries. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, four daughters, and two rescue dogs.

Connect with Devin on LinkedIn.

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