Winnie the Pooh vs. Eyeore: What kind of leader are you?

“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet
“My favorite day,” said Pooh”

— A.A. Milne

This quote on a A- frame street sign made me smile today. There is a huge amount of research that suggests that positive moods, affect or approach to the world has a multitude of benefits from better relationships to better health.  Studies show that successful entrepreneurs are more likely to have a positive outlook – they kinda have to, in order to persuade investors and employees to go along for a risky ride.

In her blog, Rebecca Amy Todd recently posted  What does your TweetCloud Say about You? She noted that most negative tweets are often about venting, which is counterproductive, and honestly doesn’t feel good. I started thinking about why I like a positive view of the world. Have you ever had a friend who is always in a bad mood? A major drama queen? The perennial Eyeore in your life? Have you ever noticed what a drag they are to be around? When you spend too much time with the Eyeores in your life, do you start to sound negative too? Believe it or not, psychologists have shown that emotions are contagious.

As leaders, the way we frame a situation can have a profound impact on those around us. They take their cues from our messaging about problems facing our organizations. If we frame things negatively, it can start to feel hopeless, the complete opposite of inspirational.

Modern leaders lead movements, according to Digital Tonto. Leadership is more than developing strategy, commanding and directing, it is also about inspiring and empowering others move the ideas forward. Which is pretty hard to do if you frame challenges from a negative perspective. So, if you find yourself emulating Eyeore, maybe you should be thinking about how to be more Winnie-the-Pooh. I’m sure someone else has already written the ten leadership lessons from Winnie the Pooh somewhere.


6 replies »

  1. Great post! I can be a bit of a Pollyanna or a Pooh, I guess. I used to feel apologetic about that, but now I enjoy being upbeat, even (perhaps especially!) when it garners cynical eye rolls. There is a book called something like the Tao of Pooh- fun read. Are you familiar with Jill Bolte Taylor? Her TED talk gives a nice scientific framework to the idea of emotional energy.

  2. Hi Colleen,
    I couldn’t agree more! A sense of optimism about the future is crucial to leadership – we must find ways to convey the possibilities of a better world as we see it so that others share responsibility for making it so! I know of a few bloggers who think of themselves as prophets, but their messages are endlessly negative and, I fear, not very motivating. While they do sometimes touch on important truths and name issues that need to be addressed, they are so negative, and seemingly despairing, that their readers are left feeling immobilized, rather than inspired to make change!

  3. So I’m a Pooh, and one of my most valued team members is an Eyeore – he sees the trip hazards I miss as I rush enthusiastically ahead and saves me from them. Every Pooh needs an Eyeore – it’s all about balance.

  4. Great post Colleen! Leaders to whom so many look up constantly, need to be very cautious about the attitude they portray. A negative mindset can have a ripple effect on many. Cautiousness is different from negativity.

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