How to increase the psychological capital in your team by working with optimism

psykologiskt kapital optimism

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The psychological capital affects your performance and wellbeing

This is our fifth blog post in the series about the psychological capital, which is about our mental strength. In our first blog post: Psychological capital makes your team feel and perform betterwe defined the concept psychological capital and its components

  • Hope
  • Efficacy
  • Resilience
  • Optimism

The great thing about psychological capital is that it can be affected, and that there is a solid base of research (link in Swedish) which shows its positive influence both on yourself, your team, and your organization.

In this blog post we focus on the fourth component of psychological capital: optimism.

How you as a leader develop the psychological capital in your team by working with optimism

Optimism is the fourth dimension of the psychological capital. Optimism is about having a general belief that things will work out.

The way we judge previous experiences has great influence on how we look at the future. E.g. if we lost the football game, did not get the new role at work, etc. A pessimistic person will often put all responsibility on themselves for this. What is wrong with me? Why am I so bad? Whilst an optimistic person will see that there can be other factors affecting the result, and does not put all the blame on him- or herself and how he or she is.

Moreover, the optimist will distinguish between how one is and what one does or thinks. It is a big difference between thinking that ‘I am bad’ and ‘I played badly’. The latter way of thinking makes it possible to adjust the behavior and improve for the future. It is easier to change what you do, say and think, than to change who you are.

To develop optimism is about changing focus. Optimism can be developed through practices to accept the passed, appreciate the present and see the future as a source for possibilities. You can practice on this yourself by e.g. reflecting on different events and the results of these. Then challenge the reason for the result, if it was because of who you are, or what you did. You can also talk about what you see as positive in the event, and what you would like to change until the next time. In Reflektionsbok för mental styrka (link in Swedish) you can find several different practices that you can use.

It is important that the optimism does not become naive, but realistic. A naively optimistic person might miss risks and expose themself and others to unnecessary problems. If you are too naive, you also tend to put the responsibility on everything around you, and no responsibility on yourself. This leads to reduced responsibility taking, and you also miss opportunities to develop and improve. In other words, it is important that your optimism is balanced and realistic.

As a leader you can help your team to increase optimism in the ways described above, where you talk about different events and connect these to behaviors that you can change or strengthen. A way to work with this can be to set both performance targets and results targets (link in Swedish) where you focus on the small steps, performances, that will subsequently lead to the result. The performance can be affected, but the result of the performance is not that easy to affect. Moreover, it is good to talk continuously with your team members about their strengths and previous success. To talk about positive events makes you focus on the positive, and it also builds confidence within your team.

Do you want to increase your team's performance by working with your psychological capital?

Come along to our webinar with Stefan Söderfjäll (in Swedish)

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