Leadership Encourages Hope

April 10, 2012

The process of leadership flourishes when people assume responsibility for the choice to pursue substantive changes that enhance a shared purpose. This process is potent when its participants have hope – the belief that one knows how to perform and is willing to direct and sustain consistent effort to accomplish goals that matter. Hope requires three steps from leadership:

1. Help identifying meaningful goals that really matter

2. Help understanding what it takes to achieve those goals

3. Encouragement to assume responsibility for investing effort

The first two steps toward hope are relatively straightforward, but it’s probably where most leadership surprisingly flounders. Do the people in your group know what really matters to the long term success of your organization? Do they know the most important things they need to do on a daily basis to help the organization thrive? Do they understand how and why their daily behavior makes a difference? How do you know?

The third step won’t happen without the first two, but even when the first two steps have been done well, it’s no guarantee that everyone will care and then choose to put forth effort to perform. Leadership can never provide hope because ultimately hope is an individual choice that involves uncertainty, risk, responsibility, patience, perseverance, and fear.

Leadership lives and dies on its ability to help people move forward through fear in the right direction, in the right ways. When we commit to the process of leadership, we can never be responsible for the hope of those we engage with, but we must always hold ourselves accountable.

Related Posts:

Nourishers And Toxins

Three Beliefs Leaders Hold About Employees That Cause Silence

Leadership Requires The Courage To Fight For Real Changes

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Comments (2)

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  1. Beth says:

    Bret, it took me a few reads before I really got this post. I agree with it, and yet it stays so rooted in the abstract that it’s hard for me to relate to its concepts or fill in examples from my own experience.

    To me, the third element, encouragement, boils down to successful communication. Some leaders have the goals mapped out and maybe even articulated, but they fail to engage their followers due to their inability to “tell it well” and connect with their audience.

    Coincidentally, I’ve finally started a blog, Remarkable Messaging, that deals with this. You and your loyal lurkers can find it here: http://remarkablemessaging.blogspot.com/

    Speaking of the value of encouragement, Bret, you are my first and most vocal encourager about blogging — how many times have you written, “YOU should be blogging, Beth!” — so I feel like I owe you a nice New York pepperoni pizza for all the encouragement you’ve shown me personally. Next time you’re in Manhattan, I’m buying.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    So glad to see you are blogging, Beth! I LOVE it!! I hope folks will visit your blog and start to follow it so they can see how sharp your thinking and writing is on leadership and management. Next time I am in Manhattan, pizza for sure! Thanks, Bret