I’ve been talking to chief execs about ‘keeping positive’. Some have expressed concerns along the lines: “What if I tell my staff things are going to work out, and they don’t?”

We don’t know the future. But we can shape it (that’s why I named the third step of the Stabilise, Sustain, Shape process the way I did).

The future is not predetermined and waiting for us ‘out there’. Some things are outside our influence, of course. But many are not. We shape the future. By being positive, you’re not just making people feel better now. You’re increasing chances of things turning out well for them later.

A wise doctor once told me, “You should always give the patient the best prognosis.” Once you communicate a prediction, or just an attitude about the future, it affects the results, because predictions affect behaviour.

Of course there’s the concern of offering people a fool’s paradise. For example, politicians who downplayed COVID-19 have undermined efforts to stop it spreading.

So first, make prudent checks. Have you done everything you reasonably can to ward off problems or deal with them as well as possible should they arise? Review that with a trusted sounding board.

Once you’re satisfied, then the rational strategy is to project positivity. Not to avoid upsetting people, but because it will shape their behaviour and so the results that you and they get.

Copyright Andrew Bass 2020


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