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What Leaders Should Do to Speak Enthusiasm (When It's Not Your Thing)

     Countless surveys have been done that show teams want leaders who inspire them.  They appreciate working with a manager who motivates them with their own enthusiasm and zest for life.  This is not a skill that's learned very easily if at all.  It's actually a personality trait that a lot of people have naturally, and to act counter to it would be a strain for them.  They love life and have a penchant for seeing experiences in a positive way even if things aren't going well.  Not everyone can do this and come across sincere.  Some people have to work at it.  On the contrary, as much as the optimistic person does not have to work hard at being excited about life, the pessimist does not have to work hard at seeing the hardships of life--and living in them.
     Pessimists see optimists sometimes as phonies.  They don't believe anyone can be that enthusiastic all the time and be sincere.  They believe they're hiding their pain.  Pessimists try to search below the surface for the "real" problems.  They take life seriously and see it as a succession of fires that have to be put out and issues that plague them at home and work.  This type of outlook on life can drain the energy out of people who don't share it.  Managers who go around the office all day looking for obstacles, bringing up negative issues, and creating problems where they don't have to exist cause workers to hate coming through the company's doors every day.
     Uninspiring leaders don't often realize this is how they act.  This behavior is the norm for them, and few people tend to point it out for fear of hurting their feelings or having to deal with the wrath that may come because, of course, a pessimist will not take the feedback well.
     Some leaders are not pessimists but still lack the knowledge in how to show enthusiasm at work.  They have a more reserved demeanor and may come across as disconnected and uninspiring.
     If you struggle with showing enthusiasm on the job or in life because of either of these reasons, keep a couple of things in mind:
     1)  Troubles come without prompting so don't invite them in.  An enthusiastic and inspiring leader tries to protect his or her team as much as possible from the issues that will serve as little more than distractions to them.  These are the things that keep people from being productive and weighed down.  In speaking to the team, a leader who struggles with sounding enthusiastic should get used to saying:  "Don't worry about it.  We'll get through it."  Or, "This is a big barrier, but it's nothing that a strong team like us can't can get over."  Or, "Let's focus our attention on those things we can influence or change and not those we can't."  Enthusiastic leaders aren't bouncing off the walls, standing on chairs or shouting some rousing speech.  They simply speak with hope.
     2)  Encourage your team by acknowledging their special contributions and showing that you're one of their biggest supporters.  Speak enthusiastically about their accomplishments.  Be sincere by complimenting them only when it is earned and appropriate.  How much more enthusiastic would a person feel about getting back to their desk if at the staff meeting you called them out on an awesome job they did on a particular project or over the past several months as a "turnaround player"?  How much more respected a manager would you be if you showed your enthusiasm with a smile rather than a bland look while telling the team how you have every confidence they are going to hit the team's goals this quarter.
     Enthusiasm is far more than being a cheerleader and slapping backs and grinning.  Many people don't feel comfortable behaving that way, and it's okay.  It's not their norm.  But they can always speak enthusiasm without being enthusiastic by saying the right words sincerely and regularly.


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