The Authenticity of Hope

To have hope is to believe in a brighter future.

Generating and sustaining hope are prime functions that have been promoted by authorities on leadership including such luminaries as Napoleon. Hope does not come out of thin air. Although uplifting words can inspire hopeful feelings, they do a poor job of sustaining.

To have a significant impact, leaders need a multi-pronged strategy that has an enduring impact on employees.

    Risk Management. Hope is oriented towards the future. The future is fraught with peril. While it is neither feasible nor wise to convince people that the future is rosy and secure, it is practical and smart to talk about managing the inevitable risks.

    Trust. In our surveys we assess trust of colleagues, immediate superiors, and distant management. The three do not rise and fall together. People may trust their colleagues but not their boss or vice versa. It is clear that a workgroup shows more resilience when all three aspects of trust are in the positive direction.

    Confidence. Facing an uncertain future is more manageable when people feel confident in their capacity to respond effectively. That sense of assurance goes further than confidence in oneself to include confidence in people who contribute to success at work. The general feeling of trust reflects the extent to which people are confident that their leaders and their colleagues will be there for them. That means that they have both the resources needed to pursue the workgroup’s mission as well as the commitment to contribute those capabilities when needed.

    Action. Effective narratives are more than words. The story moves from being a fairy tale to a reality when people have first-hand experience putting ideas into action. Confidence in oneself or in one’s colleagues has a much more powerful influence when it builds on actual experience.

Resilience on the individual or workgroup level reflects substance and experience. Confidence based on inspirational speeches evaporates in the face of hard challenges. Confidence based on experience goes much deeper.

The primary task for leaders in building team resilience is making the narrative authentic by finding ways to put an inspiring story into day-to-day action.

What stories have you put into action lately?


  1. Dear Dr. Leiter

    I totally agree in this point.
    I have a good experience explaining the resolution process of problems to empoyees in the first step of a resolution. When they know that they are in the right track and it is only a matter of time (and sometimes I can tell how many time, aproximately), they become confident and change from a defenseless attitude to a “expecting with hope” attitude.
    It is important, as you have said before to talk about real experiences form me and/or others, in order to avoid inconvenient mistakes.



  2. Heriberto
    You make a great point about employees’ confidence. It is through actual experience that people become assured that they can thrive in the future.

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