“Where there’s hope, there’s life.
It fills us with fresh courage and
makes us strong again.”
Are you in the midst of chaos and uncertainty at work? I bet you are. It seems the companies I work with are in the midst of significant change.
If you are a leader, how much Hope are you generating in your environment for your company and team? With so much uncertainty, it’s easy to see how your Hope can slip away. After all, your goals are not something you can be certain of right now—and there is never a guarantee you ever will. Yet, Hope has you moving forward with confidence that you and your team will reach the goal.
Hope may even sound a bit fuzzy as a leadership concept; however, it is a requisite skill for you…that is if you are committed to being a vital force in your organization. Actually, Hope is critical to effective management as it engenders an environment for engaged, productive employees even in the face of adversity.
Just look at what Gallup found. Despite the belt-tightening, structural changes, redundancies, and declining real pay and benefits employees’ underwent, organizations were able to not only maintain high levels of employee engagement, but also strengthen their existing culture. It turns out that when almost everything else is out of control, employee engagement is one of the few things leaders and managers can influence. How did the companies Gallup studied accomplish this? They did so by being transparent; making changes quickly, communicating all the time and by providing Hope.
You see, Hope provides your workforce with a sense of stability, trust, and compassion. The truth is that much of your success will be as a result of keeping your employees happy, motivated and committed—and that emerge from Hope.
What is a balanced Hope focus?
If you are naturally inclined to expect the best in the future, you work to achieve it and believe the future is something that you can influence; then Hope may be one of your strengths. Dr. Shane Lopez, the world’s leading expert on the psychology of Hope and a senior scientist at Gallup, defines Hope as: the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.
How will you know for sure that you live your life out of Hope?
- You will be feeling satisfied. As a study across occupations found Hope to be one of the Big Five Strengths (along with Zest, Gratitude, Curiosity, and Love) associated with work satisfaction.
- You will be more productive. Researchers have found Hope fuels persistence, motivation, goal setting, and innovation. It turns out we’re a lot more productive when we’re hopeful—14% more productive at work than a colleague who is less hopeful!
- You will feel healthier. Some of the benefits, it provides according to studies done by Dr. Lopez is that it has an impact on well-being. He’s found there’s a connection from Hope to happiness to health.
What are some simple shifts you can make to engage your Hope?
- Set Big Goals and Believe You Can Accomplish Them. Be clear about your two or three priority goals, and paint a vivid image of what each goal will look like and the context of what you will experience when you achieve it. Take the time to envision the pathways you will take to reach these goals. It’s also wise to be a “scenario thinker.” This means you take into consideration what could go wrong and plan how to counteract the possible obstacles you will encounter along the way and then realistically set strategies to remain on track if these “de-railers” occur.
- Spend Time with Hopeful People. You’ll benefit by soaking in this view of the world. If you’re leading a team, encourage your employees to spend time with the most hopeful person in their lives. Of course, for your co-workers, you as a leader have to be this role model for Hope.
- Increase Positive Emotions. By gifting your employees with time to pursue a goal which excites them, you will be increasing positive emotions for them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a work-related goal. Many global companies, through their leadership programs, encourage their high-potential employees to spend their time and talent on community projects or for nonprofit organizations. Even a personal goal will show positive results for your workforce. In his research, Dr. Lopez found that companies that granted employees time to do this experienced an improvement in productivity, and engagement.
- Keep an Optimism Journal. Journaling on a regular basis for 20 minutes three to four consecutive days recording you at your best in various domains of your life will help you realize how much you have and how frequently you achieve your goals right after experiencing a breakdown. This gives you an immediate boost in your mood as well as your happiness levels for several weeks.
What does it look like when you take Hope too far?
Be mindful of being wishful. While Hope is very productive, wishing is its shadow side—It is fantasizing with no goals or actions attached. Wishful people believe that their wish will magically manifest into reality without laying the foundation to get there. This passive approach is actually counterproductive. Being overly optimistic is another shadow side of Hope. This may have you being perceived as Pollyanna-ish or unrealistic in facing potential risks.
Do you know your strengths?
If you have not tested out your Character Strengths as yet, click here to take the free 15-minute VIA Survey and receive your profile.
Deb, I would be delighted to discuss your strengths as well as discuss some of the ways you can develop them if you are interested. By taking this step, you will discover something powerful, you and your employees becoming more engaged, energized and happy at work. Let’s connect! It would be my pleasure to support you in beginning to live a life that is rewarding to YOU.
Check out Dr. Shane Lopez’s very readable book: Making Hope Happen