A few days ago I shared 5 reasons why hope is not an effective strategy. In that same article I also emphasized that hope is nonetheless an essential attitude.
There is a difference between hope and hope so. The former is certain, expectant, optimistic. The latter is tentative, doubtful, and pessimistic, at least to a significant degree.
Hope is an energizing and invigorating force. It is often the difference between success and failure. It provokes effort, creativity, and positive feelings of value. This intangible asset is a by-product. One cannot get it by demanding it of others. One cannot maintain it without a continual source of fuel. The things you do and do not do directly impact it.
Hopeful people show up for work excited about prospects, bolstered by past successes and future opportunities, and energized to address the challenges of the day. The path to the fulfillment of vision is long, takes unexpected turns, and encounters setbacks. Hope as a strategy ill-prepares a team to address those difficulties. Hope as an attitude adds horsepower to the engines of enterprise so that obstacles are overcome and barriers are breached.
Stress (often recognized as distress) is the negative force that dulls thinking, drains energy, and allows us to consider defeat as an option. Eustress is the positive force that sparks enthusiastic participation, ignores fatigue, and never considers defeat an option. The difference between the two is the attitude of hope.
7 Things you can do right now to enthuse your associates and employees with hope:
- Be decisive even if you’re not always absolutely certain. Indecision and its brother inaction can influence a group’s desire to win, even its will to survive. Leaders lead. That means they have ideas, know what to do, give direction and take action. People follow leaders. They equate strength with decisiveness – rightly so. They abandon leaders who cannot or will not lead.
- Be confident, even if you don’t feel very confident. Sometimes bluster is necessary. Not bullying or abuse, but that swag that comes with assurance. You as leader must be comfortable with and confident in your position, your authority, your right to lead, and your responsibility to make things happen.
- Smile even when you feel like scowling. Hope as an attitude is an intangible quality influenced and demonstrated by subtle markers. Look positive, sound positive, act positively. Optimism breeds optimism which births enthusiasm and energy.
- Be nice even if you’re angry. Bluster and BS may make you feel better and you may think it produces big results. But those returns are only short-term. You get much farther, succeed much quicker, and exert far more influence when you act in a gracious manner. Some months ago I wrote about the two major leadership styles – X & Y (You can read about it here.) Well, there’s a third. It’s the SOB style and we’ve all run into that one. If you are one, you can change. You cannot impart hope by screaming or shouting. Cannot be done!
- Acknowledge setbacks and failures but celebrate successes. Your associates are not stupid. They know when something has gone wrong. Admit it, address it, deal with it, and move ahead. Don’t be positive to the point of being insensitive. When one major American corporation changed its pay policy, it negatively impacted several thousand employees. Some of them experienced a $25,000 drop in annual income overnight. Local store managers tried to put a happy face on it by saying it was a “positive move going forward.” For the company it might have been positive. For those employees who experienced a loss, it most certainly was not. Don’t be insensitive. Hope is born out of understanding of circumstances and the people who must deal with them. Anything less is hot hope. It is pure fantasy.
- Impart confidence in your team and in their ability to meet the challenges they face even if you have secret doubts and reservations. Don’t interfere with their sovereignty. Don’t butt in unless it’s absolutely critical. That’s called meddling and it only provokes annoyance and dismay. If you’ve done your job well, if you’ve recruited and hired competent people, let them do their job. You do yours which is to lead and we all understand that leadership is an inspirational function primarily. Stay out unless and until you’re needed and then tread carefully.
- Give away credit when victories are won, objectives are surpassed, and milestones are reached even if there is still a long ways to go. Every week, every two weeks, or once a month, money shows up in our bank accounts. Pay periods happen often on most jobs. Why? Because we have bills to pay? Well, yeah, but it is the periodic reward made in exchange for our work that keeps us coming back. Here’s a hint: The higher up the pay scale someone is, the more critical it is that rewards be more than monetary. There is the sense of satisfaction, the feeling that effort and talent have meaning that encourages us. Hope comes when we feel that we are making a difference. That cannot wait until the job is completely finished