Standing for What You Believe in as a Leadership Competency
Whenever I coach about leadership, whether it is about leading one’s own life or leading an organization of any size, I challenge my coachees to claim their leadership energy by standing up for what they believe in. We talk about times that they have stood up for what they believe in and times when they chose to remain silent. We examine what was different in the two choices. The analysis boils down, usually, to overcoming fear as the greatest obstacle to taking a stand. The journey to leadership development starts with self awareness and then must move on to overcoming deep seated fears that get in the way of taking the stand that is necessary to claim one’s leadership power.
A good leadership development course includes the provision of tools and processes to overcome deep seated fears, as well as the space to engage in dialogue to be able to move oneself forward. The Individual Health and Balance module of the Genuine Contact program offers this for those who wish to be stronger in leading their own lives and leading their teams, departments, and organizations. Our next offering of this module for leaders is April 11-14 in North Carolina, USA. If you are working at figuring out how to lead your life and your organization from more grounded sense of your own power, we encourage you to join us in this workshop.
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The Hope Factor as a Leadership Competency
Hope propels people in moving forward. In organizations, whether those facing issues of survival or the challenges of learning how to thrive in constant change, hope is an important, possibly crucial asset. Who is looking after ensuring the presence of this asset in today’s businesses and organizations? Might responsibility for being a steward of hope be a leadership competency of immense value in organizations? As business consultants, we meet with people in varied organizations. Some are doing better than others. In some, we experience people really pulling together to get the job done. In others, they are not pulling together and are fragmented in their approach.
We have been asked if team building would make a difference. Team building is always a good idea. However, it may not make a sufficient difference. Imagine if you can, team building within a business unit of people, who have no sense of hope for a good future for their business unit or for themselves in their organization. Imagine the same team building work in a business unit of people who have a great sense of hope for a good future…they might not know how to achieve it or which strategies will work yet they feel hope that they and their business unit can thrive. Possibly you can imagine the big difference that hope is making. Yet, in the business unit or organization, who is looking after hope? Where does the stewardship of hope reside? How is hope instilled in the people? Where does it come from and where is it housed? In our experience, this valuable asset is often taken for granted, neither nurtured nor is anyone accepting responsibility for the stewardship of hope.
I offer you the concept that hope is essential in businesses and organizations as an asset that can make the difference of surviving or not, thriving or not. Fostering hope in the organization is a leadership competency. Prior to these times of accelerated and constant change, leaders who were good motivational speakers, possible with charismatic qualities, could create the sense of hope in their organizations.
Most of the people I speak with in organizations in Europe and North America convey that they have lost hope for a bright future. They hunker down usually working hard at the details of their everyday jobs and they are getting burned out when hope is not present. They do not want to be asked to look up, to look at the future (except for the answer to whether they will have a job), to implement a strategic plan, or to veer to far away from the immediate tasks to be done and ‘fires to be put out’. I hear leaders attempting to instill interest in the strategic plan implementation, while at the same time not being able to guarantee jobs in the midst of organizational optimization.
If it is true that an important leadership competency is instilling hope in people, how is it possible for a leader to carry out this competency while simultaneously not being able to make the kind of promises that the people are eager to hear? There is a disconnect, people are motivated by their fears, not by their hopes, and the attempts of leaders to instill a dimension of hope into the organization is failing because it is not perceived as achievable.
What happens when the critical mass of people in an organization lose hope for a better future? What is the cost when this happens? What would we witness in organizations of people in whom leaders cannot inspire hope?