The Pros and Cons of Being an Optimist at Work

In life, and in the workplace, the optimist is most often celebrated. Whilst the pessimist can often be branded as ‘negative’ or ‘downbeat’. But both optimism and (constructive) pessimism are essential for managing a project or a team, successfully. Not everyone can be an optimist and not everyone should be. Positivity is certainly a wonderful trait to have but in any good team, a harmonious balance is needed. Being an optimistic thinker comes with both pros and cons. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of being an optimist at work.

The Pros of Being an Optimist

In business, there are good and bad days. If you’re the office optimist, it’s very likely that others look to you to boost morale when failure and disappointment strike.

  • Not afraid of new ideas – you’re the first to back a new idea and your creativity will be a valuable asset to the business. Your positive outlook gives you the power to believe that anything is possible as long as you are willing to work for it. This thirst will inspire the rest of the team to be more driven too.
  • Championing change – whilst a pessimist is cautious of change, you champion it. You encourage others to embrace it to the full and without you, pioneering new ideas just wouldn’t be the same!
  • Infectious attitude – your optimistic ways are infectious and you can rally up a whole team to work harder for the end goal. Without your upbeat attitude, there would be a serious lack of positive vibes in the office.
  • You’re happy and healthy – negativity can be damaging to your mental and physical health. Your positive nature helps you manage stress better, whilst studies also show that optimists have significantly better blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • You bounce back – you’re the type of person who sees failure as a new start so you can come back from any business setback. You won’t waste time on self-pity and you are good at spreading your energy across the whole workforce.

The Cons of Being an Optimist

Whilst you bring about a positive vibe and create a cheerful atmosphere for employees and colleagues, you can also be characterised as a bit of a dreamer and this won’t always play in your favour.

  • Unrealistic targets – optimistic managers should be careful not to lead their teams into certain failure. Unrealistic goals can ultimately damage confidence and self-esteem, and being overly hopeful can leave you with blind spots in your business vision.
  • Breaking deadlines – not being able to hit deadlines can become a problem when a workplace optimist over-promises or under-delivers.
  • Unforeseen problems – being cautious is rarely a part of an optimist’s vocabulary but without weighing up the different risk factors within a project, task or product launch, it’s impossible to prepare for the worst. Risk assessments and contingency plans are seldom the priority of the optimistic project manager, yet they are vital to business success.
  • Decreased productivity – pessimists are known to over-analyse but without some analysis, there are bound to be setbacks. Careful planning in every area, from budgeting to resources, is critical to staying on track.