I was having a conversation with industry collaborators and was reminded of a quote by Warren G. Bennis: “True leaders have an uncanny way of enrolling people in their vision through their optimism — sometimes unwarranted optimism. For them, the glass is not half-full, it’s brimming … ” Given recent events in our country and in the world, an article about optimism in business might be just what the doctor ordered.
When we think about business and all the challenges that leadership has faced and will continue to face, let’s look at the influence and impact created by a leader who embraces optimism. Studies demonstrate that optimism is becoming an essential skill for leaders, as it fortifies teams during both challenging and successful times.
In the second half of the year, it’s an ideal time to promote optimism with your people and your clients. Here are some practical ideas to explore as ways to incorporate optimism as a leadership tool.
2X client challenge
The bread and butter of your organization is your customers. Review your top 20 clients, meet with team members who support these valuable clients and learn how things are going from an internal perspective, including longevity, profitability, loyalty and future opportunities. Ask team members what makes them optimistic about working with those top 20 clients and probe for innovative ways to contribute more value.
Equipped with this client intelligence, challenge yourself to reach out to two clients (2X) each month for the remainder of the year, and request time to have a conversation about their experience with your organization. You can conduct meetings in-person (most impactful) or on a video call. What matters most is the dialogue and goodwill this discussion creates.
After you hear their perspective about their relationship and experience with your organization, ask what makes them optimistic about the future of their business, their industry and their relationship with your business. Listen carefully to what matters to them.
Then share what makes you optimistic about how your team can contribute to your client’s continued success. It’s a refreshing way to look at these most valuable relationships and imagine the energy and opportunities that will be created when a client conversation is focused on optimism and future potential, instead of, “What keeps you up at night?”
Love the ones with you
We are all weary of how the The Great Resignation has impacted many of our organizations. If clients are the bread and butter, employees are the heart and soul of your business. Let’s infuse our teams with optimism by eliciting feedback about their experience with your organization.
Each month, “love the ones with you” and your organization. Conduct monthly listening sessions with groups of team members. These sessions are hosted by leadership with intact or cross-functional teams. Ask people about their employee experience, ideas to improve the team, why they stay with your organization and what makes them optimistic about their career. Use this precious time with your employees to listen — not to speak. There will be time for that in the future.
A healthy dose of optimism can change perspectives, create action, embrace engagement and accelerate performance. Wishing you a glass that overflows with success! ●
Judy Bodenhamer is Founder & Managing Director of Client Experience Group