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Hope is Not a Strategy: But it is Important

Hope is not a strategy. You’ve probably heard that before and it’s certainly true. We can’t hope success into existence. Hoping will not accomplish goals. Hoping bills get paid doesn’t pay the bills. Those accomplishments require positive action. To be successful, we must actually do something.

Hope is not a strategy, but it is essential to your team. Your team needs to believe there is hope for the future. They need to know that if they work hard and apply themselves their contribution will be recognized and valued. A key element of that hope is trust in their leader. The team needs to know:

  • What’s going on. Poor information flow will build a wall between the leader and the team causing the team to lose faith in the leader, and hope for the future.
  • The leader supports them in the bad times too. When the ship is taking on water, there’s room in the lifeboat for everyone and the leader will not abandon them and take the lifeboat for himself.

In the Air Force, mid-level and senior leaders seldom stayed on the job more than 2 years before they were transferred to another position. While I don’t recommend that in the corporate world, it did have an interesting effect on organizations. No matter how bad a leader was, you knew you only had to endure them for 2 years or less. The opposite could be true as well. A team that suffered through a string of bad leaders tended to lose hope that there would be a good leader in the future, which would lead to a serious and long-term drop in team performance.

In his 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni lists 5 factors that will cause dysfunctions in teams. The first dysfunction is a lack of trust. Lencioni is referring to trust among team members, which is vital to a team’s success. That trust starts with the leader. The leader must demonstrate trust in the team while also helping the team trust each other.

Hope is not a strategy. Success requires action. But, when the team loses faith in their leader and as a result loses hope for the future, no amount of real strategy will save them. What will save them is a leader who can restore hope.

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