At the moment, our focus seems totally consumed by the news – how many more got the virus today, what restrictions are added, how many more businesses closed, how many events are cancelled, how far the stock market dropped. Given our 24/7 new cycle of sensationalist headlines, it is easy to forget that
_ This, too, shall pass!
In the relatively short future, we will figure out how to improve the situation. Our immune systems will start defeating the virus (tragically, not everyone but almost), businesses and schools will reopen, and the economy will rebound. In the meantime, it is up to leaders to provide hope. Allowing fear to take charge can have disastrous consequences for an organization. Fear will paralyze thinking, innovation, and creativity. It is the leader who will help the organization to be prepared, not scared.
A Gallup Business Journal article* states followers want their leaders to provide trust, compassion, stability, and hope. A leader will have to balance stability in the moment while giving leaders hope for the future. Organizations with individuals that have higher hope have higher retention rates, employee satisfaction, commitment**, and productivity***. So, what does a leader have to do to build hope and achieve these benefits?
First, we need a clear direction for the future. We have to do more than manage a crises, we have to paint a picture of a much better future. Give our teams specific things to look forward to. We have to have faith and optimism that we can achieve this future. Next, we need to provide guidance on how we are going to move the organization into that future. Part of this effort will be to do everything we can to eliminate hopelessness. Hopelessness acts like fear, and robs us of creativity and innovation. Get your team to spend more time initiating and less time responding. Identify opportunities, not just solutions. Problems can be fixed by solutions, but opportunities create a future. Talk to your teams about what can be accomplished, not just what should be done. Create an attitude about dreaming of a future vision, and have the team focus on that.
A large part of creating hope is the leader’s day to day attitude, but one way to help build hope is to re-evaluate your Vision****. Revisit, rewrite, and clarify your vision. To paraphrase Ray Popham, it is easy when you are on top of the mountain; it is tough when the mountain is on top of you. Recast your vision full of hope. Hope can be the entrepreneurs’ best friend. Help your team cast a hopeful vision, and share confidence in your team’s ability to achieve it. Remember, our current situation is temporary. Build hope by looking forward, and find those opportunities that create the future.
- Malik, Efficacy, Hope, Optimism, and Resilience at Workplace – Positive Organizational Behavior. http://www.ijsrp.org/research-paper-1013/ijsrp-p2274.pdf
- Popham, Positioning Yourself as an Agent of Hope Teaching Call, John Maxwell Team Mentorship Program, 16 March 2020.
- Popham, Nurturing Hope When it Ain’t Happening Teaching Call, John Maxwell Team Mentorship Program, 13 Aug 2019.