Just over two years ago as the presidential election cycle was winding down, I wrote a blog post about being a hopeful leader. It seems appropriate to edit and revisit this same topic as the mid-term election cycle finally comes to an end this Tuesday.
Being hopeful about leadership during this current U.S. election cycle seems challenging at best and naive at worst. Candidates from both political parties, and their surrogates, have overwhelmed the electorate with anger and fear through their behavior and rhetoric. Will any of this end when the results are posted sometime late on November 6? I don’t think so.
I can’t influence the leadership approach of today’s ruling class, but will offer some advice about being hopeful to the rest of us. It’s based on experiences and observations that allow me to be hopeful.
The dictionary defines hopeful as feeling or inspiring optimism about a future event.
There is a sense of promise and encouragement inherent in this description. Leaders need to identify with the qualities and behaviors that create hope in the workplace. Here are some of them:
- Being hopeful is about being truthful. No one feels good about the future, or your leadership, if you disguise motives or hide important facts. Even when the news is bad, it’s better to acknowledge the darkness so you can focus on the potential for light.
- A hopeful leader focuses less on differences and more on diversity. If we only view diversity through a prism of differences then it’s easier to center on who’s right or who’s wrong. Leaders who celebrate diverse ideas, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives will find that workers all want the same things—freedom, safety, opportunity, and respect.
- When a leader is hopeful, she asks for help, admits mistakes, and acknowledges weaknesses. Pretending to be self-sufficient isn’t very inspiring. We are drawn to leaders who display genuine vulnerability because that creates opportunities for relationship.
The most important date for our nation and its leadership isn’t November 6. It’s actually November 7 and every day after that. Will we allow fear and anger to consume us, or work together to figure things out?
More importantly, how will you find ways to provide hopeful leadership regardless of what happens?
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ―Shel Silverstein
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