Emotional Intelligence and the Power of a Positive Outlook

After completing a 360 degree assessment, Nikki reviewed the results with her new executive coach. The vast majority of the assessment was positive. As you might expect, there were a handful of unfavorable comments and a few areas where skill building, leadership development, and coaching would benefit Nikki.

Nikki glossed over the favorable aspects of the assessment and quickly focused on what she perceived as the negative comments and shortcomings. In fact, Nikki had a very hard time thinking about anything else. She had a reputation for being a “glass is half empty” person, and was known to sour quickly on projects when they struggled, at times, adopting a defeatist attitude.

But her negative reaction and emphasis on the “criticisms” threatened to spiral to the point where it could have a significant impact on the way she interacted with her colleagues and staff, and her ability to do her job.

Nikki’s coach helped her recognize that the first order of business needed to be to develop her emotional intelligence — in particular Nikki’s ability to maintain a positive outlook.

According to Daniel Goleman, who pioneered and developed the concept, a positive outlook is one of the 12 competencies of emotional intelligence.

“When we talk about a positive outlook, we’re not talking about being naive or Pollyanna,” said Maren Perry, president of Arden Coaching. “Having the capacity to maintain and convey a positive outlook means consistently projecting a sense of confidence, optimism, and resilience — no matter what the circumstances. It’s about taking the initiative and overcoming challenges in ways that move your people and your organization forward.”

Not only does cultivating a positive attitude help you personally and professionally, it spreads to others and makes your team, your department, and your company stronger and more resilient.

A significant body of research demonstrates that a positive outlook typically leads to positive emotions that, in turn, produce higher levels of motivation, the ability to better overcome setbacks, increased levels of creativity, and improved performance. 

Unsurprisingly, the research also shows that a negative outlook stokes emotions such as cynicism, anger, distrust, and fatalism, that, in turn, lead to disengagement, dysfunctional team performance, and often, high turnover — as people seek to leave a pessimistic, toxic work culture.

With the help of her executive coach, Nikki began to genuinely transform her attitude and her ability to maintain and communicate a positive outlook. Not only did her performance improve, the culture and performance of her entire team improved. Nikki and her team’s work became more resourceful and innovative and they rebounded more quickly when they encountered hurdles and problems. For more about emotional intelligence, read Arden Coaching’s article, “Don’t be Clueless — Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness.”

To learn more about how executive coaching can help you improve your emotional intelligence, including a positive outlook, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.