Is Leadership About Always Keeping The Glass Half-Empty?

You see a glass with water in it. The water is at the halfway mark in the glass.

This leads to the question:

  • Is the glass half empty?
  • Or is the glass half full?

How would you choose to describe it?

A glass half-filled with water is frequently used to demonstrate the difference between optimist and pessimist leaders.

  • The optimist leader sees the glass as half full, focusing on what is important and, by extension, serving the need, at least in part.
  • The pessimist leader perceives the glass as half-empty and focuses on half of the water is gone or what is missing and hence inadequate.

When disaster comes and the citadels of the organization shatter due to tectonic upheavals, the organization needs energy, passion, enthusiasm, and determination to rebuild. This is provided by the perception of “Half-Full” glass, which lends the confidence that we have some capability or resource and should be able to garner our efforts to secure the balance. A half-empty glass, on the other hand, may remind us of what is missing and, in some situations, provide the urge to strive to obtain it, and in that sense, motivate the team to keep polishing its blade and preparing for a market fight.

While in normal circumstances, positivity fuels action and a sense of dejection drain us, the skill of leadership can help deploy them into constructive outputs. The converse is letting confidence led to overconfidence bordering on “hubris” and, in the process, a sure recipe for disaster, or alternatively, suboptimal leveraging of the feeling of inadequacy resulting in diffidence and being overawed into inaction. However, that is exactly what balanced leadership entails: the supreme ability to direct in the chosen direction.

Great leadership comes with enormous responsibility, and as a leader, one must recognize that their colleagues turn to them for direction, advice, and inspiration on a regular basis. Correspondingly, a leader’s perception of their organization’s future and growth will influence the mental make-up of their employees.

As a result, building an attitude of hope, promise, and abundance around their leadership, rather than scarcity or helplessness perspective, becomes vital if they are truly focused on growing their team to their full potential.

1. Establish clear employee objectives and expectations:

Setting clear goals and expectations for your employees is critical to their success. Encouraging employees to participate in the process through discussion, inquiries, and feedback while creating these goals will greatly aid in the process of identifying goals that are stretched and owned.

In many organizations, leaders are apt to see the glass half full as a reason enough for celebrations and do not pursue with the employees what they can and need to do more, consistent with their potential and the organization’s capability. This is losing the golden opportunity to set higher benchmarks during the objective setting. It is also robbing them of any motivation left to work harder.

A leader must keep his or her team informed about their goal to excite and inspire them.

This makes it easier for employees to comprehend the direction and destination they’re aiming towards as individuals and teams. Everyone can measure progress and identify accomplishments when goals are clearly defined. Research has established that there cannot be a greater motivator for an employee than enabling him/her to connect his/her work with what the organization is seeking to achieve.

Don’t allow team members’ ambitions to become stagnant. Review your goals on a regular basis to make any necessary changes or rearrangements. This will show your team members that you are there and paying attention to what they are doing while being around to demonstrate your help and support.

2. Promote personal and professional development:

According to research, employees who have access to professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged. Being a good cheerleader for your team is a vital component of being a good leader. You should care about their success and development.

Employees who undergo training become more productive, which results in better workflow, employee engagement, collaboration, communication, and lower costs. Leaders who trust in their employees and provide opportunities for them to learn and grow may be astonished at how much they can accomplish. Upskilling can help employees perform their job better while they stay up to date with all the latest trends and industry developments. Equally important is the signal you pass on to the employee that you care for him/her and that is why you are investing in his/her learning and development.

3. Communicate honestly and openly:

Creating an open channel of communication with your team members is one of the most crucial aspects of good leadership. When you are in charge of a group of individuals, it is critical, to be honest. Your firm and its employees are a mirror of you, and if you practice honesty and ethics, your people will follow. After all, actions speak louder than Words!!!

Active communication and openness may help you create trust with your team and boost morale. There are numerous leadership styles; there is no right or wrong. However, there is both legitimate and fraudulent activity. Fake leadership attracts no followers and, in fact, breeds dissonance in the organization.

4. Provide immediate performance feedback:

Research proves that there is a 14.9% lower turnover rate in companies that implement regular employee feedback. The greatest method to lead your staff in the correct direction is to give them straight, honest feedback, even if it’s criticism. Employee feedback immediately following an event has the greatest impact on performance. And engagement peaks when employees receive feedback on a weekly basis. Don’t some of us remember the concept of the “One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, in this regard?

Highlight employee successes in addition to delivering critical comments and performance assessments. Let a team member know when they do something outstanding, as they say, “Catch them doing right.” Thank them for their efforts and congratulate them on their victories.

Positive reinforcement will help to create a more productive workplace. Rather than generic pats on the back, recognizing accomplishments by describing how they benefit the company not only motivates but also helps a person perform more effectively in the long run.

Being an optimist in today’s difficult and negative climate begins with your decision to be positive and your decision to live that life every day. It benefits you as well as others around you, particularly your employees. Focusing on whether the glass is half full or half empty is relevant in the context of channeling collective effort to provide purpose and direction to employees; otherwise, it completely misses the point of leveraging it for the overall good of employees and the organization. The glass may be refilled for positive action.

Now, let’s return to that glass of water…

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Is the glass always full, or has it always been empty?

Take some time to evaluate what unique abilities your organization may want in the future, in addition to including all the criteria listed above. Rather than concentrating on generic skill development, which may be daunting for many, make sure your leadership development programme focuses on attributes that will best prepare your company for the road ahead.

For organizations aspiring to achieve breakthrough results and to thrive sustainably, NamanHR offers powerful customized learning solutions, to enhance the effectiveness of leaders and the performance of talent. Write back to us to find out more at

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