Happy ‘Optimist’ Day Australia!

Happy ‘Optimist Day' Australia!

Happy ‘Optimist’ Day Australia! 

This Friday in Australia (and the whole Southern Hemisphere) marks an important day - it is the shortest day of the year - or the winter equinox. Which means that from Saturday onwards the days get a minute or so longer each day as we hurtle out of Winter and head towards the glorious days of Spring.

The importance of optimism seems particularly relevant as I peer from office window on a day where the temperature is currently 10C and raining steadily.

Optimism in business, as in life, is an important Emotional Intelligence that comes easy for some and eludes others. The ability to look for the ‘benefit’ in difficult situations, and not focus on the negative, is a strategic advantage and a valuable leadership trait, especially in times of change and crisis.

Dr Martyn Newman (Clinical Psychologist and Author who specialises in Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness) states from his research that optimists outperform people on aptitude tests, recover faster from illness and generally achieve more in life.

The rise in popularity of resilience courses, mindfulness training and positive workplace initiatives makes a lot of sense.  

An optimist will choose to focus on what’s gone right and how they can plan so things do go right, rather than focus on what went wrong. Over a sustained period of time this tendency can’t help but impact on whether your outlook is naturally optimistic or pessimistic.

Having personally undertaken an Emotional Intelligence assessment, I found that optimism is a strong tendency of mine and while there have been time where I’ve experienced negative impacts (recruitment is a very good time to park your optimism and choose candidates pragmatically – trust me!) it has also helped me to get through some of the lowest points in my personal and professional life. This is because, fundamentally, I believe that things will, over time, ultimately work out for the best.

Optimism is one of the strongest predictors of success in a leadership role. In a former HR Manager role in Employment Services I used an EQ psychometric as a part of a selection process. Over a period of time I formed an opinion that there were generally two types of Employment Consultants – those that would help their clients overcome their barriers to employment and those that would swap war stories and spend more of their contact time building a relationship (based on woe) than helping their client to achieve a tangible result.

Without fail, the second type of Employment Consultant would rate highest by job seekers as a preferred Case Manager (because of how they made the job seeker feel at the time). But it was the former type of Employment Consultant which was more effective in helping people get jobs. They focused on helping their clients  take a positive and proactive view to overcoming their issues and to keep applying for jobs even when they had experienced so much rejection. These Consultants were often not as popular, but always most effective. It was the trait of optimism that shined through as a predictor of success in this role and this is also true for many other roles.

The trait of optimism is the biggest predictor of leadership success for when leading ourselves and for leading others.  

So happy ‘Optimists Day’ on Friday to our Southern Hemisphere readers - and for those in the Northern Hemisphere – have a great summer!

Matt is an Executive Workplace Consultant for Workplace Harmony Solutions and works with leaders and organisations on creating a positive workplace culture and developing Emotional Intelligence. Matt is running a very special experiential leadership development program (with a focus on Emotional Intelligence) on the Camino de Santiago in 2020.

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About the Author

Matt is passionate about developing constructive leadership capabilities in others so they may better empower, engage and enhance performance in their own team members.