Do You See a Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

You know the question: there's a glass with water at the half-way mark. Is it half-full or half-empty?

How you answer, is a key to your thinking and your leadership style.

Half-empty? You see a world full of problems. Half-full? You see the world as opportunities and possibilities and solutions.

Barbara Fredrickson, a professor of psychology who has studied this positive/negative perception for twenty years, says that our minds are like "flypaper for negative thoughts." Negative perceptions become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you think negatively, the more you might communicate and act the same way.


As a CEO or leader at any level, seeing the glass as half-full is critical to developing a world-changing vision.  But the positive mindset also helps you motivate others. Leaders with a glass-full mindset frame suggestions and even criticism differently: "Try developing your public speaking skills; I think it can really have a great impact on your career." 

That is very different from, "You're not a very good public speaker; I'd suggest getting some coaching in this area." Leaders with a half-empty mindset tend not to be great motivators,  and without motivated employees, it's hard to rally your troops around your vision or strategy.

The glass half-full leader frames ideas, strategy and motivation from a positive perspective. And ultimately, the positive perspective, a "can-do" attitude, can propel sales, innovation, as well as customer and employee loyalty. And isn't that what leadership is all about?