Every CEO has to find a balance between cockeyed optimism and rank pessimism. For many, the former is the easier trap to fall in.
In 2012, researchers at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business announced the results of personality tests administered to 3,000 CEOs and CFOs, and the results confirmed what I’ve seen over my career: CEOs “have a more optimistic outlook on their businesses and, more broadly, on life than the general population.” The CFOs in the survey agreed, saying that “their CEOs are more optimistic about almost everything in life.”
Most would consider this instinctively bullish take on the world an asset to any CEO. After all, would anyone want to be led by a chief executive who wasn’t an optimist? CEOs are called to envision a bright future and make it reality—and plow through countless roadblocks in the process. It’s a job that requires a consistent orientation toward the positive.
However, too much positivity can inhibit the performance of CEOs and their companies, and every leader must strike a balance between looking on the bright side and focusing on hard truths. Read on to see which approach you lean toward, and to discover the hybrid mindset that suits the CEO role best.