5 strategies to inspire hope in leadership
When I ask people if hope in leadership matters, usually they say something like, “I guess so” or “Possibly.” The answers are wishy washy, yet hope matters, especially when the going gets tough.
We all hope for something but in daily life, our hopes are general. We hope for good weather. We hope our friend gets well. We hope to get our work done on time. Those hopes are small but still strong enough to get us out of bed each morning to see what the new days brings. Imagine how powerful we could be if we had a burning hope inside. Imagine what we could achieve.
Why hope in leadership matters.
A hope is not the same as a wish Brene Brown says, “Hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process.”. Professor David Orr says, “Hope is a verb with its shirtsleeves rolled up.” Therefore, hope involves action in addition to thought. Hope gives you a direction and the will to work for it. Hope is motivating. It energises and it offers a light to follow when all seems dark.
Importantly, hope is important for happiness, with research showing it is linked to increased health, wellbeing, and positivity. These are the traits that help us survive difficulties and thrive in the good times. Hope is a strong morale booster in individuals and in teams.
Is hope alive in your team? If it seems to be flagging, here are three strategies for keeping it alive and helping your people stay happy, focused, and purposeful.
- Share your vision: Leaders who have high levels of hope inspire better performance in their teams. Their hope shows when they share their vision – their ‘why’. Show you have something to believe in. There’s a compelling power in people who are aiming for something of purpose and are willing to invite others in. This is just one reason why hope in leadership is so important.
- Set achievable goals: Goals are important not just for direction, but for building positive expectations of the future. Help your people design goals they can achieve quickly and goals to aim for in the longer term. Hope in leadership grows bit by bit, especially when they have a success on their journey. Meeting goals proves their hope for the future to be realistic.
- Look for the possibilities. There’s more than one way to reach a goal and sometimes leaders need to think outside the box to find it. Help people realise that one disappointment doesn’t mean a goal is unreachable. Give them the power and confidence to make choices. Most of us are used to following routine but teaching your team to look for different pathways increases their flexibility and optimism.
- Keep your perspective. Hope is motivating for you as much as the team, but it’s your responsibility to keep your feet on the ground and see the big picture. Every action and every result fits into the overall scheme of things but to people who are emotionally involved, the situation can feel like ‘life or death.’ It isn’t, of course, so you need to help them see where what they are doing fits in. Help bring clarity so they can open themselves to possibilities once more and see the silver lining in even the darkest clouds.
- Show them their progress. We don’t always notice how far we’ve come until someone shows us. Celebrate the positives and ensure your people can see what they’ve achieved so far. There’s nothing better than having a success experience to make you want more.
Lao Tzu put it well when he said. “As long as we have hope, we have direction, the energy to move, and the map to move by.” If you thought hope in leadership was little more than wishful thinking, I hope you see it differently now.
What are you doing to keep hope alive within your team?
Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished former CEO, Award-Winning Executive Coach and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience-based to achieve rapid development and growth.