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Harness the power of hope to create energy

Harness the power of hope to create energy

Apr 2021

I have had two interactions with people at work that has made me question; how can I energise people? Both lived energetic and passionate lives, yet they now lacked energy. They felt hopeless.

Sam is a workmate who has been in the organization for a number of years, he has always been an extremely hard worker with a lot of energy, however he has seen many people promoted into positions ahead of him while he has remained at his current level. He has actively sort many avenues to progress himself, all to no avail. He expressed he was at a point where he felt he had to just ‘keep going through the motions at work’ or leave, as he had lost all ‘hope’ that there would be an opportunity in the organization.

John is in his nineties and presented to the hospital ward in a severe state of depression, so much so that he had taken an overdose of prescription medication and now wouldn’t get out of bed. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation, however what stood out with John was that for 90 years he had lived life to the full, a publican who served a host of characters in some of the most extreme outposts of our country and had loved it. He could easily recall great adventures and relationships. He was still physically capable, had a partner who loved him and even a faith that gave him comfort. However, he had suffered for two years with an untreatable medical condition that gave him no relief 24/7. He could not see how he could keep living with this situation, he felt life was ‘hopeless’.

In both these situations, as a leader, I could not ‘fix’ what these men identified as the source of their problem. Yet, like John Kotter notes, I want my leadership contribution to motivate, inspire and energise people. I want them to be energised to keep living, keep working and keep giving their best.

In both situations, a common word or theme they used was ‘hope’. The lack of hope corresponded with the lack of energy.

Some definitions of hope include: "expect with confidence" and "to cherish a desire with anticipation". Hope is a desire for things to change for the better. It is this way of thinking that pushes us to action. Hope energises us.

As intentional leaders, I believe an especially important skill is to harness the power of hope to create energy.

Hope can be generated at an organisational level by regularly sharing simple and clear guiding statements coupled with operational consistency.

However, as intentional leaders we also need to generate hope at a personal level. To do this I spent time with both Sam and John to talk through their hopes, there were some that we could not be confident they could achieve. But there were hopes, things that were of value to them that they could look forward to with confidence

John use to walk every day until he had ‘lost hope’. Now we just focused on John looking forward with confidence that he could go for a walk each day and hoped that each walk would be a bit further. Within a week John was walking most of the day and though he still suffered from pain 24/7 his mind was not constantly focused on it. By starting to hope that he could like and enjoy something in life, even with this pain, the energy change in him was clear.

Sam wants to make a difference at work; he sees issues and wants to change them. We decided to focus on what Sam was confident in looking forward to. So, we developed a organisational change project that made the care of patients safer. In taking on this project Sam’s energy returned, he started coming in early and was much more positive in his interactions with people around him.

In both cases we had to shift what we were hoping for from something that we could not be confident into something that we could desire and expect. This use of hope created energy to move forward. In fact, I believe both John and Sam are closer to gaining the things that had caused them to lose hope.

At Joseph Consulting we work with intentional leaders to harness the power of hope to create energy. We foster personal and organisational hope by addressing the basic needs of choice, connection, and competence. Please call if you would like to further explore ideas from this blog or discover how Joseph Consulting can support you and your organisation.

Rod Ellem & Jason Gallagher

Rod is a guest thought leader and writer for Joseph Consulting.

Rod Ellem is an Associate Director Physiotherapy with Queensland Health. Outside this role he continues to refine his leadership skills by volunteering many hours to the leadership and strategic direction of his local church. Rod is married with 4 young children.

Jason Gallagher, Director, Joseph Consulting

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