Hope, Leadership & Resilience

A close up image of orange spring flowers.

Spring has finally arrived, and as I look out my window at tulips and budding trees, I cannot help but feel renewed and, dare I say it…hopeful. Winter never seemed to want to leave, and at times I became a little despondent, wondering if spring would ever arrive. 

As a leader in a complex and ever-changing world, it is easy to lose hope, to believe that nothing will ever change. To those leaders reading this who feel overwhelmed and hopeless, remember this – you are not alone. Being a leader is never an easy path, regardless of whether you are focused on leading yourself, your team, or your organization. It can sometimes be discouraging but know you can make a difference. You can and do have the ability to profoundly impact the lives of those around you, often in ways you never imagined. Drew Dudley refers to this as ‘Leading with Lollipops’. If you have not seen his Ted Talk, I highly recommend you check it out.

However, if the world is weighing you down right now, take a deep breath and reconnect to why you started on your leadership path. What was the passion and purpose that drove you to become a leader in the first place? Remember that great leaders are not born. They are made. Becoming an effective leader in these challenging times takes time, effort, and resilience. Your work is important, and your efforts are appreciated more than you know. So, take heart if you feel like an overwhelmed and hopeless leader right now. Try to offer yourself the same grace and compassion you would afford a colleague or friend who felt the same way. Stay true to your vision, and keep moving through the challenges, even if it is just at a glacial pace.

There are many tips and strategies to help you build resiliency into your leadership practice. Here are a few I have found helpful over the years:

  1. Practice self-care: Resilient and hopeful leaders care for themselves physically and emotionally. Like the instructions we receive on airplanes, we put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help others. This means making time for exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga.
  2. Foster positive emotions: Encourage a positive and optimistic mindset among yourself and your team. Celebrate successes, express gratitude, and focus on opportunities rather than obstacles.
  3. Encourage learning and growth: Provide opportunities for yourself and your team to learn new skills, try new things, and take on challenges. Encourage a growth mindset that sees failures as opportunities to learn and improve.
  4. Build strong relationships: Cultivate positive and supportive relationships with your team members, colleagues, and stakeholders. Encourage open communication and collaboration, and create an environment where everyone feels valued and heard.
  5. Set achievable goals: Set clear goals for yourself and your team. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and celebrate progress.
  6. Emphasize adaptability: Encourage flexibility and adaptability in yourself and your team. Recognize that change is inevitable and be prepared to adjust plans and strategies as needed.
  7. Lead by example: Model resilience and hope in your leadership practices. As a leader, you continually model the way to those around you. 
  8. Encourage a culture of openness, support, and resilience throughout your organization.

Try incorporating one or more of these strategies into your leadership practices. Resilience and hope are not static qualities. They require ongoing effort and practice. But with dedication and commitment, you can create a more hopeful and effective work environment for yourself and those around you.