Have you ever worked with a “glass half empty” person? They are something to behold especially if you are a bit of an optimist. We get the chance to interact with many leaders of both sales departments (VP of Sales) and entire companies (CEO). One thing that always catches my ear is the leader’s level of optimism.
I find leaders who have a realistic level of optimism to be the most effective. I’m not talking about whistling through the graveyard, but rather a measured optimism that seeks positive solutions. The reason this is so important is that employees have a more difficult time rallying behind a pessimistic leader. I have seen this first-hand in many different organizations.
Pessimism has a draining effect on the team. Electrical current flows from negative to the positive terminal and employees are similar. Leaders that consistently migrate to the potential failure side of an outcome stifle employees. If the leader’s pessimism is extreme, employees will leave for other opportunities.
I note all of this because I am knee-deep into a pessimistic customer. The problem here is that the pessimism flows from the ownership down to the President and into the company. This company has the potential to be a market leader, but they continue to flounder around losing market share to less-able competitors.
And here may be the reason why. I emailed with the owner last week about a hiring topic and received a response from him that floored me. They have hired a strong candidate after the owner, President and VP of Sales interviewed him and thought he was a strong fit. When I emailed the owner, here is one sentence from his response:
I’m more concerned with cutting our losses as quickly as possible as soon as we recognize that we’ve made a mistake in hiring.
I reread it and am shocked all over again. This statement summarizes his hiring philosophy. Could it be any more negative? Yes, I have significant concerns about our salesperson ramping up quickly and succeeding. How much support is the new salesperson going to receive while he onramps? The concern is that the pessimistic leadership team has an itchy trigger finger. I’m all for firing fast if you make a mistake, but this negative approach serves to create self-fulfilling prophesy.