Hope is a powerful thing.
“It is the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”-Dr. Shane Lopez, Gallup
Building hope is essential for these times of complexity and change. It helps people see a way forward when facing uncertainty. It helps people face the future with courage and confidence. It is what people look for in their leaders.
Looking for Hope
You know better than I can describe that we are living in a time when people are looking for hope in every aspect of their lives. Whether it is their workplace or in their schools so much has changed and seems to continue to change. Everything from vaccines to supply chains have people looking for something or someone they can depend upon for hope.
So, how do you build hope? How do you guide people toward a tomorrow that looks better than today?
People usually move toward what you hold before them. Are you holding a grim and gloomy vision of what lies ahead or are you creating a sense of direction toward exciting possibilities?
I know it is tough to build hope when you, as the leader, are not feeling hopeful. Let me suggest that you become aware of who God created you to be. Who you are is how you lead. You are a child of God, uniquely gifted with strengths and abilities for this time. When you are true to who you are, people feel cared for and feel a sense of stability. When people sense the compassion you have for them, your leadership will instill trust. Be authentic, vulnerable, and courageous. Become a model for people to follow. Your hope-filled living shapes your hope-filled leadership.
The Beloved Community
Then become aware of the people entrusted to your care. They, too, are children of God. Each of them is a beloved child, uniquely gifted with strengths and abilities. As a leader, you have the opportunity to discover and develop their potential as you move into the future together. Remember, people need to feel a sense of stability. They want to be able to say, “I fit into that hopeful future.” Because you are helping them live into who they were created to be, they will trust your leadership and will sense the compassion you have for them. They will step up and out to move toward the positive future you are holding before them.
Hope: Connecting Voice and Touch
Max Dupree, in his book Leadership Jazz, tells the story of his granddaughter Zoe. She was born prematurely and weighed one pound and seven ounces. She was so tiny that his wedding ring fit over her arm. In addition to being born prematurely, Zoe’s biological father abandoned her mother a month before she was born.
The first time Max suited up in protective gear to visit Zoe in her isolate in the neonatal unit of the hospital, she had two IVs in her arms, one in her navel, and a feeding tube and a breathing tube in her mouth. A wise and caring nurse named Ruth gave Max his instructions.
She said, “For the next several months, you will be the surrogate father. I want you to come to her every day. While you are here, I would like you to rub her arms and her legs with the tip of your finger. While you are caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her because she needs to connect your voice with your touch.”
DuPree writes, “Ruth was doing exactly the right thing for Zoe and without realizing it, she was giving me the perfect description of the work of a leader. At the core of being a leader is the ability to always connect one’s voice with one’s touch.”
DuPree understood the leader’s voice to be an expression of one’s beliefs and the leader’s touch as an expression of competence and resolve. Using DuPree’s description, I want you to think of leading with hope as bringing “who you are” together with “your relationships.” Think of it this way:
Your Voice: Who you are
1. You are a child of God
2. You are uniquely gifted with strengths and abilities
3. You are a leader created to lead at this time
4. You are learning about and adapting to the changing situations and circumstances
5. You have something special to offer to life and leadership
6. As a child of God, who you are is how you lead
Your Touch: Your relationships
1. You live and work with people who are children of God
2. You live and work with people who are uniquely gifted with strengths and abilities
3. You have the opportunity and responsibility to help people discover their potential and to help mentor, coach, lead people into living their potential
4. You are assisting them to learn about and to adapt to the changing world around them
5. You are learning how each person entrusted to your care helps you become more who God created you to be
6. You model trust and compassion in your interactions
Leading with hope means you are learning about yourself, and the people entrusted to your care, and at the same time, you are adapting to the needs and ideas of the people around you. You are learning when to step up to lead and when to step aside to be a follower.
The Leader You Were Created to Be
So, as you step into this new year, here are three questions to reflect upon. Your reflection will assist you in becoming the leader you were created to be.
- What are you good at doing?
- What brings you joy when you are doing it? Whether at work or at play, what brings you joy?
- How are you helping others discover their joy? How are you celebrating their joy?
I recently read this quote, “If, as a leader, you are not creating hope and helping people see the way forward, chances are, no one else is either.” You were created to build hope and lead during this time. Hope is a powerful thing and you, as a leader, have the opportunity to lead like no other time in history.
The time is now to lead with hope. Remember, who you are is how you lead.