Great leaders generate hope. Those who resist the world of doom and gloom and build hope and belief in and for their people multiply their rates of success.
“A leader is a dealer in hope”- Napolean
Recently I was listening to a radio broadcast about the struggles many of our teachers and educators are currently facing. I was particularly interested in one head teacher’s story where she spoke about the challenges that she was navigating with her staff. As a newly appointed leader and working in what was regarded as an extremely impoverished and challenging school, the issues she was encountering bore a common thread: a distinct loss of hope that had permeated not only the children’s worlds but also that of their teachers.
As she noted, her challenge was to not only generate hope in her students but also in those who were responsible for their educational journey. She was acutely aware that if she didn’t start to make some significant changes in her staff’s attitudes and beliefs she would have very limited impact on the children in her school.
Unfortunately her story all too often reflects the challenges that many of our business leaders encounter today, particularly in the current climate where organisations face high levels of uncertainty and ever increasing demands to innovate and constantly do more with less. How do we generate hope in our business leaders and managers for the future? Failing to generate hope – or more bluntly abandoning hope – has dire consequences including at the very least a loss of morale, engagement and productivity.
Dr Lopez, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Business defines hope as the energy and ideas that drive people to change their circumstances. Hope therefore has the power to make bad times temporary. Without hope there is no belief, no direction, no goals, no motivation and no opportunity to create a better situation. As Dr Lopez highlights, hope keeps us in the game. It keeps us interacting, focused and moving in a direction that makes sense for our own welfare, the welfare of others and the welfare of an organisation. His research suggests that employees with high levels of hope not only show up for work more but are 14% more productive. They are more creative at problem solving and more flexible, adaptable and resilient. They score higher in satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness.
Without hope we simply give up and ‘check out’ which is dangerous for us as leaders and the businesses we lead. It is important to note that hope is more than merely ‘wishing’ for a better situation. As leaders it requires us to inspire belief in others and to actively engage them in the future success of our organisations. In his book The Psychology of Hope: How You Can Get From Here To There, Rick Snyder suggests a practical framework that focuses on goal directed thinking and developing confidence and capacity to find pathways to achieve them. It is a discipline approach and one that can be learned. I would encourage you to consider some of the following strategies suggested to increase our abilities to be more hopeful:
Inspiring hope in others is critical for ALL leaders. Not only does it serve a fundamental business purpose it also significantly impacts us personally by supporting growth and success regardless of our situation today.
As leaders today consider how you are helping your people to believe:
As always I would love to hear your thoughts.
Margot Andersen – The Career Diplomat
The roots of courageous leadership are firmly planted in self awareness, ownership and accountability.
Work on strengthening two different aspects of resilience.
When at a career crossroads, give yourself room to imagine what’s possible without any guilt.
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