It seems to be generally expected lately that CEOs, managers, and other business leaders are stressed. Under pressure. Feel the weight of the company on their shoulders.
Nearly every time a business leader gets interviewed, they are asked, ‘what keeps you up at night?’ We expect them to feel anxious and, indeed, see it as their responsibility. The company does depend on them, after all.
But if you take a moment to think about it, you’ll start to realise how negative this outlook is. Why should leaders have to spend all day and all night in a state of worry? And how is this helpful to anyone?
Maybe instead of asking, ‘what keeps you up at night?’ we should reframe the question as ‘what makes you leap out of bed in the morning?’ Sally Helgesen argues.
This refreshing interpretation of the question provides a much more productive framework for business leaders to work with. Leaders should be motivated by the excitement of opportunity, rather than the dread of failure – especially if they hope to engage better with their employees. It is by far a more powerful way to lead an organisation.
One of the most common reason that individuals leave an organisation comes down to some variation on the theme that they are not able to see any opportunities in their job. This is exactly why a focus on opportunities is so important for leaders. People’s experience at work is largely determined by their managers, and, in turn, a manager’s experience is determined by their manager – going all the way to senior leadership.
Leaders who are optimistic about what their team can accomplish, and reframe their challenges as opportunities are able to inspire confidence throughout an organisation. Positivity cascades down.
Naturally, the converse of this is also true. Leaders who worry excessively – who are kept up all night dreading problems – increase stress levels in their own team.
If you’re a leader in any capacity, take the time to assess your own outlook. Don’t let your negativity create a culture of disengaged workers. Remember the power of positivity, and always be on the lookout for opportunities.