Instilling hope for leaders
I’ve been thinking a lot about hope lately. Maybe its because I’m personally hoping with all of my might that as many of us as humanly possible come out the other side of this coronavirus pandemic safely with our lives and livelihoods intact. I’m a systems level thinker so that means I’ve been focused on the big- how are our systems holding up under the stress of massive disruption and most of my hope has hung around there.
But lately, as I look at my school age children, active and smiling- I hope with everything I have that I’m doing enough to protect them during this time of phased re-openings.
As I’ve been talking with leaders of organizations I can clearly see the need for them to instill hope in those they guide. Intentional hope generation isn’t a chapter in many leadership development resources but in difficult times that is exactly what people are looking to leaders for. Creating optimism for the future is absolutely necessary. I think this might be why I have been spending my personal “down time” researching dream vacations lately. I know that travel isn’t going to happen anytime soon but I still am keeping that hope alive that I will be able to take my family to some national parks before too long.
We all need something to look forward to. The something may look different now than it did on our vision boards back in January but its still important none the less. Looking back on history- when circumstances feel chaotic it is hope that helps us find a way through the messiness. When rapidly changing contexts make us feel distressed it is hope that helps us make sense of the complexity and find the simple within.
A few years back a close family friend had minor heart operation to fix something he had had his whole life that went wrong and was transferred to our nearby state-of-the art hospital’s cardiac ICU. I was first on the scene while his family quickly traveled. As I prayed over his unconscious body, watching machines do the work of pumping his blood, I knew that the odds were he wouldn’t survive the night. So, I yelled at him. Yes, that’s right. I yelled for him to fight, I said his wife and kids names over and over as loud as I could and I told him that there was no way out of this except fighting and that I KNEW he had it in him to fight like hell. Sometime the next morning the wonderful, talented surgeon who worked on him all night told his wife and I the reality of his grave situation. It didn’t sound good.
To this day we refer to that as the Doom and Gloom talk. My friend would hear nothing of it and only focused on hope. She is incredibly smart, capable and calm under extreme pressure but she knew her only chance to get her family through this was to go all in on hope. And today her husband is walking around with a heart transplant he received a year later. living his best life.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING AS A LEADER?
Many leaders have sent out emails describing the state of things to staff. Some have taken a doom and gloom approach and others have chosen one that focuses on the strengths of the company. Both are honest and transparent- but they have different results.
Leaders who evoke hope are really focused on initiating for the organization’s future. The ones with the doom and gloom approach are reacting to the circumstances.
Hope helps us see a way forward, even when it might be hard to see through the fogged glass. Hope is what motivates creative staff to generate their best ideas and bring them forward. Hope and inspiration are tied closely together. What are you doing each day to create hope?