As leaders it is important we demonstrate confidence during change and upheaval. However, I have learned most people can tell when I am being overly optimistic.

Here is how I have learned to strike a balance between the positive and the pragmatic:

  • Show your enthusiasm: rather than tell people to look on the bright side, strive to model optimism. Check your body language and other nonverbal cues to make sure they’re not telling a different story.
  • Don’t blow smoke: avoid putting a false spin on decisions or events that may be difficult to handle.
  • Recognize obstacles: don’t overdo optimism to the point of ignoring barriers, limitations, and mistakes.
  • Maintain open lines of communication: make it understood that you want people, especially your key people, to share their concerns as well as offer constructive ideas.
  • Trust people to handle the truth: tell them what you know and also what you don’t know.

Transparency speaks volumes in organizations.  You will find most people understand that difficult challenges are not wrapped in simple solutions. When you’re open with your team, they will know they can trust you as their leader.