How to balance your positive thinking

How to balance your positive thinking


What is your leadership style? Are you an “authentic leader”? Does your organization have a strong focus on “being positive”? Do you know the importance of using your positive thinking in balance?

In many western societies, positive leadership is now a multimillion-pound industry. Research society has published numerous studies on the benefits of a positive leadership approach in organizations. Business schools and other development institutions have been playing a big part of this trend of “positive leadership”, where business leaders and society as a whole are addicted to an excessive positivity. Positive leadership encourages optimism, energizes people, celebrates success, brings people together in tough times and drives teams to execute, but how do you use your positivity in balance? This article will teach you to use your positive strengths in a skillful and balanced way to help achieve your goals.

What happens when you have too much of a good thing like positive thinking?

The unfounded optimism of positive leadership can damage performance if this quality is used ineffectively or in the wrong situation. This is likely to happen when a positive leader uses their positive thinking and optimism into an overdrive. If positive leaders are being unrealistic positive, they may not take into account of any possible danger or shortcoming. They might also have a difficulty in addressing conflicts, have a tendency to dismiss disturbing news and future difficult possibilities, leaving little or no space for more questioning perspectives. Rather than facilitate open communication, positive leaders can have disciplinary effects to others that they prefer only positive upward communication. They could also misunderstand problems entirely, leaving their organizations and colleagues unprepared to deal with unexpected setbacks.

As with any character strengths, personality traits or fundamental leadership qualities that have a risk of going into overdrive, it needs to be a balance. The challenge is to find the right balance. However, we have found some helpful core strategies that can help you moderate these risks.

1. Get some perspective – Be realistic

Positive leaders would need to dial down their positivity and optimism. A great way of doing this is to start looking for other qualities and strengths that will help them take a step back to get some perspective and become realistic of the accurate situation.

2. Draw on people whose strengths are different from yours

Don’t just hire “yes” people. Instead, hire those who will be able to bring various character strengths and personality traits to the team. It is very important that positive leaders draw on people who show passion for looking at the reality of a situation and who can consider and foresee problems in a more natural way.

3. The positive balance

Positive leaders might fail to collaborate with people with other approaches, so it may be useful to also learn how to have a more balanced approach. Therefore, they might need to learn the skills of combining positive thinking with critical thinking, to learn how to confront difficult realities and to start listening to alternative voices.

Another important thing to consider is that you need to know your triggers. Certain people or incidents may trigger our “excessive positivity” in certain situations. You need to know yourself and your triggers.

It is time to re-evaluate what we have been telling ourselves. Being positive can certainly be empowering and transformational, facilitating innovation and enhancing teamwork in most cases, preferable to its opposite. But the secret for all leaders is to create the right balance. As discussed above, unfounded optimism can damage performance by eroding trust, communication, and preparedness. The most effective leadership dynamics are likely to emerge when we know our triggers, we are aware of the risks and know which strategies we can use to overcome them and get the best out of ourselves and the team.

Take a moment to reflect. Do you use positive thinking excessively? Do you avoid bad news and only hear what you want to hear?

The most effective way to find your strengths is to take the free HIGH5 – which is based on the latest positive psychology research, strengths-based leadership theory and the framework of over a million of interviews with top business leaders across the world.