The Trait Optimism Facet in Leadership and Education

The Trait Optimism Facet in Leadership and Education

Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8327-3.ch015

Abstract

This chapter discusses how leaders can promote the trait optimism facet in their leadership by being positive, leading by example, and using the Pygmalion Effect. In addition, this chapter determines how educators can promote the trait optimism facet by setting personal goals, embracing their roles as leaders in the classroom which includes being positive and leading by example, and by using the Pygmalion Effect. Finally, this chapter also entertains the positions of those who oppose the promotion of the trait optimism facet in leadership and education.
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Introduction

When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle, and this’ll help things turn out for the best—and always look on the bright side of life, always look on the light side of life. -Eric Idle

In life, there are generally two types of people, pessimists and optimists (Pausch, 2008). Pessimists are the kindred spirits of Eeyore® from the infamous Winnie-the-Pooh® novels of A. A. Milne (Pausch, 2008). These dispirited individuals believe that the negative events, which occur in their lives, are incessant, they often suffer from depression, they are less resilient, and they feel as if they are helpless to change the events in their lives (Seligman, 2006) due to an external locus of control (Lamberton & Minor, 2010). The other type of person is the optimist; these individuals are the kindred spirits of Tigger® from the infamous Winnie-the-Pooh® novels of A. A. Milne (Pausch, 2008). Optimists are jovial individuals who view negative events as temporary challenges. They “believe defeat is not their fault, [but instead] is caused by circumstances, bad luck, or other people” (Seligman, 2006, p. 5). Optimists are more resilient, and are less likely to feel as if they are helpless to change the events in their lives (Seligman, 2006) due to an internal locus of control (Lamberton & Minor, 2010). In general, optimists also “do better in school and college, at work, and on the playing field” (Seligman, 2006, p. 5), they “regularly exceed the predictions of aptitude tests” (Seligman, 2006, p. 5), and are more likely to win elections (Seligman, 2006). Optimists have good health (Seligman, 2006) “they age well, much freer than most of us from the usual physical ills of middle age; evidence suggests that they may even live longer” (Seligman, 2006, p. 5).

Petrides (2009b) defines the trait optimism facet as the ability of an individual to be “confident and likely to ‘look on the bright side’ of life” (p. 5), optimists can also “expect positive things to happen in their life” (Petrides, 2001, p. 5), and “reflects [their] general psychological state at this point in time” (Petrides, 2009a, p. 60). It is crucial that leaders and educators remain optimistic, because the emotions of leaders and educators influence the emotions of their followers and students (George, 2000), and it is only through the promotion of trait optimism that leaders and educators alike can inspire optimism in their students and followers.

Consequently, this chapter will meet the following objectives:

  • Scrutinize the ways that leaders promote the trait optimism facet in their leadership by being positive, leading by example, and using the Pygmalion Effect.

  • Observe how educators promote the trait optimism facet in their classrooms by setting personal goals, embracing their roles as leaders in the classroom, which involves leading by example, being positive, and employing the Pygmalion Effect.

  • Finally, this chapter entertains the positions of those who oppose the promotion of the trait optimism facet in leadership and education.

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