Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Leading with a smile ... generally

Edited by Jill Wright,

I can imagine that there will be a lot more happy faces in Melbourne management circles in the next few weeks, as leaders and would-be leaders digest the message of an article in The Age by Sylvia Pennington that suggests "If you want to be a successful leader, you're going to need to stick on a happy face."

The article seems to be based largely on the advice of British academic and leadership consultant, Professor Andrew St George - the influence behind a training manual for the Royal Navy - who declares that "No one follows a pessimist or someone who is gloomy all the time."

He warns that a bleak boss can attract distracting and unsettling gossip, making staff uncertain and insecure.

But Gavin Sharp, who is a member of Psychology Melbourne's team of business psychologists, warns in the article that there is a distinct difference between being upbeat and realistic, and inappropriate chirpiness can also be poorly received.

"Staff do appreciate honesty," Gavin advises. "If you're delivering bad news, do this in a manner that is consistent with the news but in a way that displays a way forward for the business.

"A constant upbeat attitude will soon wear thin. Be positive and optimistic, but read the room."


About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the APS Victorian branch Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.