3 Qualities of Optimistic Leaders

UPDATED: September 5, 2018
PUBLISHED: August 29, 2018

Have you ever asked someone how he or she is doing and immediately wish you could stuff the words back into your mouth? It’s because these people radiate negativity. They gripe about how terrible life is, and how difficult things are for them. They drag you down by how they view the world.

I always tell people that if somebody asks you how you’re doing, the appropriate response is “unbelievable.” Because whether life is awful or wonderful for you at the moment, that answer is still accurate. There is no reason to drag others down with your negativity. If you react to struggles with as much positivity as possible, your behavior will encourage others to do the same.

Related: The Power of Positive Thinking

People are naturally drawn to leaders who see the world through a lens of optimism. Nobody wants to work for a manager who thinks the organization will fail. No one dreams of being mentored by a boss who doesn’t believe in his or her company’s ability to overcome hardships. People want to be led by those who see the world with hope, excitement and happiness.


The best leaders are guided by optimism.


Optimistic leaders have three main qualities:

1. They anticipate the joy in life.

When I was a child, I used to love the anticipation of Christmas. On November 1, I would make construction paper rings that had the number of days until Christmas on them, and I’d tear one off each day. Christmas itself was fun, but I enjoyed the days leading up to it more. I’m the same way now. I’m always relishing the anticipation of joyous occasions.

Great leaders don’t dwell on the challenges their organizations face, but rather anticipate the exciting opportunities to come.

2. They let gratitude guide them.

Life is short, and we need to be grateful for it. My father, who I was very close to, passed away recently at 92. I was an only child, and my mother died many years ago. My father lived an amazing life. He was healthy up until the very end. I remember talking to him in his last weeks of life, and he said, “I just can’t believe I’m this old.” Life flies by, and we need to be grateful for each passing moment.

Exceptional leaders regularly thank their team members for their work. They let them know they appreciate their efforts and value their commitment.

3. They expect to win.

Optimistic leaders have the mindset that victory is always within reach. They know they can win. It’s better to be disappointed in losing than expecting you’ll fail. If you expect to win, your hopeful mindset will ripple throughout your organization.

Living with an optimistic mindset guarantees that whatever life hands you, you’re going to be happier. You’re going to be more fulfilled. You’re going to cope with challenges better. And you’re going to have a positive impact on those around you.

Related: What Happy, Successful, Optimistic People Know About Life


This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.