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Marketers Wanted: Optimism a Must

“Silver linings” may be in short supply these days, especially in the marketing world. But building a team that sees the glass as half full is key to your brand’s ability to tackle unexpected market changes and respond to challenges with innovative ideas that drive positive results.


5 reasons to make optimism part of your hiring criteria.

  1. Optimists are inspired to work harder. Research shows that optimists are 103% more inspired to give their best effort, perhaps because they can see the goal they’re working toward. In a recent survey of 11,000 employees who rated how inspired they are at work, optimists averaged a 5.29—on a 6-point scale—versus 2.61 for those with low optimism.
  2. Their positivity is contagious. Just like negativity, optimism begets optimism. A Harvard researcher calls optimism a collective phenomenon. One optimist, especially an extrovert happy to share their opinions and emotions, can quickly take over your entire team—and a more collaborative and productive culture will follow.
  3. They’re problem solvers. Optimists’ can-do attitudes lead them to focus on those things they can control, rather than complain about things they can’t. Sure, they complain sometimes (they are human, after all), but they overwhelmingly view challenges as opportunities to improve an approach or explore a new one.
  4. Optimists bounce back. Optimists treat failures as temporary setbacks from which they can quickly recover. They view setbacks as part of their learning journey to achieve their goals—and are willing to endure such short-term difficulties because they can see their desired future state and believe they’ll accomplish it.
  5. They’re natural leaders. People are naturally drawn to leaders who are upbeat and have a positive attitude. One study of 200 managers found a strong correlation between a manager’s perceived optimism and their leadership effectiveness: The most optimistic leaders rated at the 89th percentile. The most pessimistic? Their ratings hovered at the 19th percentile.


5 questions to calculate a candidate’s “optimism IQ.”

Asking a job candidate if they’re an optimist is unlikely to yield the answer you seek. (“No, actually, I’m just a pessimist waiting around for the next disaster.”😊) But there are some open-ended behavior questions that can yield the optimist you seek. Team-building consultant Boyer Management Group suggests starting with these five:

  1. Tell me about the people you work with—what are they like?
  2. There’s a lot of media coverage of companies with negative cultures. Have you found this in employers you work for?
  3. Who was the supervisor who challenged you the most professionally—and how?
  4. Give me three or four adjectives to describe each of your previous employers and/or supervisors.
  5. Tell me about your top three professional goals right now, why you chose them, and how you’re working to accomplish them.

Beyond the obvious cues—optimists will focus on the positives, while pessimists will latch on to the negatives—pay attention to other aspects of the candidate’s answers: When faced with a challenge or negative situation, did they proactively address—and learn something from it? Are they problem solvers? Go-getters? An individual with intentionality, resolve, and discipline who believes what they do can make a difference in the outcome?

Now, look beyond their answers: Check out their body language, tone of voice, and degree of enthusiasm. Between their answers and their attitude, you should be able to tell just how full their proverbial glass really is.

3 ways to bring out optimism in your team.

While some people are just naturally more optimistic than others, there are things you can do to bring out the optimism in your marketing team:

  1. Walk the walk. Foster an optimistic culture; integrate it into your day to day.
  2. Talk the talk. Communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly (emphasis on the good).
  3. Keep your eye on the prize. Remember, it’s the long game that counts; acknowledge successes—and position failures as opportunities for your team members to learn and grow.

Unless there’s some cosmic shift in our world, uncertainty will remain the order of the day, and marketers will continue to put out fires, pivot, and evolve. Those who do so with an optimistic mindset (and maybe even a smile) will fare better. And their brands will too.

For more ways we can help your marketing team strengthen your brand, contact us.

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