I was disappointed recently to hear a leadership guru extolling the virtues of optimists over pessimists in a presentation. He was suggesting that Optimists are more successful in life and business. They have all the fun, the right attitude and get the best results.
What disappointed me was, we know, as you do, that it takes all sorts to make your business and team successful. There is certainly not a sustainable, one size fits all leadership style – oh and just how near impossible it is to swap from being a natural pessimist to becoming an optimist!
One of the TD profiles, who is a natural Optimist is the Creator profile. They live life with their head in the clouds, creating beautiful bold plans and new possibilities. It’s this natural optimism that allows them to get started on their plans, that they often haven’t yet finalised the details of, as they know they will figure it out as they go along. They inspire the team to action, with their boldness and beautiful descriptions of what will be and they get on with it.
Without Creators, teams would find it challenging to come up with big bold plans that keep them way ahead of the game and innovations that customers are going to just love!
So yes, I agree Optimism is very important!
However, Pessimism is also very important…
Lets look at one of the TD profiles who is a natural Pessimist. The Accumulator profile. They are the most risk averse of all the profiles and they commit to thorough research and analysis before making a decision. They take more time to check out what works and what doesn’t and when they make a decision that the time is right to do something, you can depend on them that the research is right.
Without Accumulators, teams can rush into plans and new ideas, without fully considering the consequences and risks, or knowing all the details.
By the way, the richest man in the world today is an Accumulator!
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”
I hear organisations encouraging staff to be more positive and they ask their pessimists to communicate in a ‘more positive way’ – you know what, trying to tell someone that its going to rain at 11 o clock in a positive way, is just not that easy. Fact is, the research shows its going to rain at 11. If you don’t listen to the warnings and take an umbrella, guess what, you are going to get wet. This is what pessimists do so beautifully. They can prevent you and your business from getting soaked because they know when the rain is coming!
Mike Harris, founder of Egg.com and Mercury, once told me, that in his initial planning stages with new ventures (he is a Creator) he always seeks a group of pessimists to run his ideas by. They tell him exactly what will go wrong and why people won’t want to buy it/use the service. He then takes their feedback and reshapes his plans to incorporate the challenges they see and he has built several Billion pound businesses!
“Both Optimists and Pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invented the airplane and the pessimist the parachute”