Creating a Balanced Team: Why Optimists Are Not All That

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on August 28, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Forbes reported about a new study indicating that all that smiling those pesky optimists are so fond of may not actually be good for business.

Aha! Why is that? Well, according to Forbes writer Jan Bruce, optimists are less likely to take care of themselves, and less likely to have a plan B in case things go wrong ... because, you know, everything will be all right.

So, if pessimism is bad, and optimism is bad -- what's good? A healthy balance.

Balanced Team

When putting your team together for a project, choose people that will balance each other out. You'll need the "everything's great" people along with the worry worts. Only by bringing these two divergent personalities together will you have that perfect yin-yang.

Balanced Approach

Now that you have an array of personalities on your team, it's time to divvy up the work. The optimists may be better suited to Plan A assignments -- those that are geared toward the best possible outcome. Your pessimist team members may be better suited to dealing with Plan B -- the "what if" scenarios. You shouldn't split work up strictly, team members may have great skills in both areas, but in general, give people assignments that are better suited to their temperament as well as their skill set.

Balanced Outcomes

Plan A and Plan B should be reviewed by all members of the team -- optimists could add some sunshine to Plan B, while pessimists can give Plan A a reality check. It's always a good idea to have all eyes review the project because each team member will have different insights depending on their point of view.

Prepare for the Worst, Expect the Best

Finding any kind of balance is hard, but all team members need to be heard. In a profession like law, where it seems like we only deal with problems, it's equally important to have people who see the good in things, as well as those who plan for the worst case scenario. Find that balance, and you'll strike gold.

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