By Laurie Cure

I often say, “Leadership is not for the faint of heart”. Leaders make critical and difficult decisions for themselves and others that have a significant impact. This holds a weight that can be offset by a “knowing” (a hope) that situations always have a way forward. Hope helps us make sense of difficult choices, it brings energy and enthusiasm to our lives, and it gives us something to move towards. Even when things are going well, we “hope” it continues. This is not an ideal act of resting on our laurels. It is a willful way of understanding what made us successful (or unsuccessful), making conscious shifts, and continuing to improve.

Hope involves a core belief that the future will be better than the present AND it requires you to step forward with the confidence to make something different happen for yourself. It’s an active process that merges beliefs and actions.

Hope Theory is a line of research driven by positive psychology. It describes hope as having three distinct components:

  1. Goals: This doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution type goal, but you do need to have a sense of what you want in the future. It can be concrete like, “I want a new position in the company, ” or more informal, like “I want to ensure a sense of balance and wellbeing”.
  2. Agency: Agency is about personal control. You must have the will and ability to make your goals happen. If not, your hope will be merely a wish or desire.
  3. Pathways of possibility: People with hope find a way. They are ingenious and creative about finding solutions, even when the roadblocks seem insurmountable. They have perseverance and stamina.

Hope is becoming an advanced leadership competency, and we know that high-hope leaders have better outcomes. Hope leads to higher employee engagement (you are more inspirational and motivational), higher levels of resilience, and better productivity. There are also personal benefits that have been documented, such as better physical and mental health, stronger relationships, and a greater sense of purpose. (You can read more about how to help hope flourish in my 2022 article in Fast Company, The high-functioning leader’s new favorite four-letter word).

As you explore hope in your organization, know that it is never in isolation from other skills and emotions. It aligns with optimism, gratitude, and action planning. It also rises from despair, fear, and desperation. Hope ebbs and flows in our lives, and, like a rising phoenix, it can emerge from unexpected places. I have always loved this quote from the movie, “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. “Everything will be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.” Hope is what allows us to keep sculpting the ending.

At Innovative Connections, our mission is to “give voice and action to an emerging future”. Embedded in this purpose is our commitment to help inspire hope. We are privileged to partner with you as you seek out new opportunities and work to bring them to life. We will walk with you as you make difficult decisions, share your excitement as you achieve milestones, and share disappointments and sorrows along the journey. We will do this with you all while continuing to believe in and inspire a sense of unending hope for the future. If any of this sounds intriguing to you, let’s talk. Contact us for a free consultation or call us at 970-279-3330.

As you delve deeper and seek to build hope between yourself and your teams, please explore our free resource on Hope which is part of our Inspiring Leadership Conversations series