Let’s consider some of the advantages and inconveniences to be optimist or pessimist.
optimism: pros and cons
The optimist is contagious. He/she demonstrates trust in himself/herself and others, generates the desire to move and to improve things, gives energy and incites all team members to look for solutions and opportunities rather than problems.
However, optimism can lead to excessive confidence and even underestimating obstacles. It also leads to painting things under a too much favorable eye.
pessimism: pros and cons
The pessimist survives (according to Andy Grove: « Only the Paranoid survive »). He/she is attentive to potential risks and always ready to face problems.
However, the pessimist may be paralyzed by his analysis of the situation (“analysis paralysis”). He/she often portrays a negative self-image and provides bad press to his project. He/she could repulse even the best wills (nobody likes coming to see a gloomy face). The pessimist may also overspend to cover the numerous perceived risks even if they are very unlikely to happen.
summary: bring the best out of the two of them
So, in practice, isn’t it the combination of both facets, optimism and pessimism, that is necessary to the project manager? When he/she succeeds in accumulating the key positive aspects of both attitudes while avoiding their weaknesses, the project itself becomes stronger!
demonstrates self-confidence and trust in others
generates the desire to move, to improve things, giving energy
encourages the team to see and to look for solutions and opportunities rather than problems
awakes our attention to potential risks
prepares us to face problems
facilitates proactive risk management
So... which one are you?
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I've been leading IT projects for more than 20 years at telecom and computer manufacturers: Thomson Sintra, Digital Equipment, NCR, Nortel Networks, Orange Business Services. My passion is Project Management and leadership and I run a blog on the PM best practices at http://dantotsupm.com/