Posts Tagged ‘positivity’

Why Generating Hope Matters

March 14th, 2016


“A leader is a dealer in hope”
Recently I was listening to a radio broadcast about the struggles many of our teachers and educators are currently facing. I was particularly interested in one head teacher’s story where she spoke about the challenges that she was navigating with her staff. As a newly appointed leader and working in what was regarded as an extremely impoverished and challenging school, the issues she was encountering bore a common thread: a distinct loss of hope that had permeated not only the children’s worlds but also that of their teachers.

As she noted, her challenge was to not only generate hope in her students but also in those who were responsible for their educational journey. She was acutely aware that if she didn’t start to make some significant changes in her staff’s attitudes and beliefs she would have very limited impact on the children in her school.

Unfortunately her story all too often reflects the challenges that many of our business leaders encounter today, particularly in the current climate where organisations face high levels of uncertainty and ever increasing demands to innovate and constantly do more with less. How do we generate hope in our business leaders and managers for the future? Failing to generate hope – or more bluntly abandoning hope – has dire consequences including at the very least a loss of morale, engagement and productivity.

Dr Lopez, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Business defines hope as the energy and ideas that drive people to change their circumstances. Hope therefore has the power to make bad times temporary. Without hope there is no belief, no direction, no goals, no motivation and no opportunity to create a better situation.  As Dr Lopez highlights, hope keeps us in the game. It keeps us interacting, focused and moving in a direction that makes sense for our own welfare, the welfare of others and the welfare of an organisation. His research suggests that employees with high levels of hope not only show up for work more but are 14% more productive. They are more creative at problem solving and more flexible, adaptable and resilient. They score higher in satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness.

Without hope we simply give up and ‘check out’ which is dangerous for us as leaders and the businesses we lead. It is important to note that hope is more than merely ‘wishing’ for a better situation. As leaders it requires us to inspire belief in others and to actively engage them in the future success of our organisations. In his book The Psychology of Hope: How You Can Get From Here To There, Rick Snyder suggests a practical framework that focuses on goal directed thinking and developing confidence and capacity to find pathways to achieve them. It is a discipline approach and one that can be learned. I would encourage you to consider some of the following strategies suggested to increase our abilities to be more hopeful:

  1. Set meaningful and realistic goals: To avoid generating ‘false hope’ we need to make sure that the goals we set hold real value and are clearly aligned / visible to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
  2. Set goals that excite & energize: Understand that goals built on intrinsic drivers are far more rewarding rather than ones ‘imposed’. By tapping into the motivators and drivers of our people we are more likely to generate an energy and momentum to drive outcomes.
  3. Develop a ‘pathways thinking’ mindset: Understanding that there are several paths that can lead to success is important to prevent us becoming focused on the blockages that will invariably arise. Recognize if new learning is required or who else can help with moving forward. Learning how to pivot and identify alternative options is cortical to building hope.
  4. Surround yourself with hopeful people: Hope is just as contagious as negativity. Check who (and what) you are listening to including what we are watching and reading.
  5. Practice ‘nexting’: This term created by Lopez describes the practice of discussing the NEXT thing you are looking forward to. By surrounding ourselves with other hopeful people and sharing our stories and why we are excited about it and how we are going to do it or overcome the challenges we continue to make deposits into our hope bank account.
  6. Be careful of the stories you tell yourself: As with so many things we try to do, all too often we are own worst enemy. Watch your self-talk to make sure that it is positive and reflects a succeeding mindset.

Inspiring hope in others is critical for ALL leaders. Not only does it serve a fundamental business purpose it also significantly impacts us personally by supporting growth and success regardless of our situation today.

As leaders today consider how you are helping your people to believe:

  1. The future will be better than the present
  2. I have the power to make it happen
  3. There is more than one path to achieving my goal
  4. No path is free of obstacles

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building hope in your career and for your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Culture Piece

September 30th, 2014

“Imagine a world where what you say synchs up, not sinks down.” 

– Stan Slap

Last weekend was ‘footy’ grand final weekend here in Melbourne and whilst this may carry more meaning for some, you would have to be living under a rock to not recognise that a major event was occurring in our midst and the influence it held on the city itself.

With corporate and social events locked away on calendars months in advance; players parades that bring much of the city to a halt; passionate football fans proudly running around in all of their teams colours; almost empty shopping centres and traffic free roads during game time; and a media dominance to rival any major world event you could be forgiven that the world did almost stop spinning on it’s axis for a few hours.

Whilst Melbourne is widely regarded for it’s proud sporting culture, I didn’t realise just how much of an impact this one single event had on the city until I moved here nearly nine years ago. Even if you aren’t a fan of the game, you are invariably gathered together with friends at a b-b-q or pub for the social atmosphere; or you are taking advantage of no crowds in your favourite city spots. It really is a cultural part of the fabric of this great city.

Watching and listening to the build up and banter unfold in work places, coffee shops and various social circles, it was hard to not be caught up in the anticipation and excitement of the day. As one very excited friend put it (his team was in the grand final and ultimately triumphed on the day) you can’t live in Melbourne and not be a part of something that is ‘just what we do and who we are’!

Whilst he was referring to the lifestyle of the city of we live in, it got me thinking about the ‘lifestyle’ of our workplace… or more specifically the culture of the places that we work. What is it about some business cultures that seem to harness and capture the skills, talents and energies of their people and then infectiously impact their customers and clients?

Culture, which is generally referred to as ‘the way we do things around here’, is often attributed to being a key determinant of success. But in many ways I agree with Scott Adams, American creator of the Dilbert comic strip who sees strong corporate cultures as a by-product of success:

Company culture is another area that I think the experts get backwards. The common belief is that you need a good company culture to create success. But isn’t it more likely that companies with awesome employees get both a good culture and success at the same time? A good corporate culture is a byproduct of doing everything right; it’s not the cause of success as much as the outcome. Success improves culture more than a good culture can cause success.

So what are the components of doing ‘everything right’ and how do they translate into our businesses?

I believe that there are 8 key elements that organisations with strong cultures seek to embed within their day to day operations:

  • Clear Mission, Goals, Roles & Responsibilities

Where are we going, how do we get there and what is my contribution to the journey?

Strong cultures are able to impart a clear understanding not only of their purpose but they are able to help employees understand the link between their role and the accomplishment of these goals.

  • Empowering Leadership

Strong leadership is more than just delegating and managing employees. To develop truly effective workplaces, employees must feel empowered to take advantage of a variety of resources, collaborate with peers, investigate opportunities and own their own performance. 

  • Embrace Learning & Continuous Improvement

The desire to continuously deliver efficient, innovative and relevant products and services is a challenge for all businesses in today’s ever-changing environment. To deliver on this commitment, organisations need to encourage curiosity, learning and up-skilling and commit to a mindset of continuous improvement throughout all business channels.

  • Transparent Communication

Transparency matters because it helps people engage in what it is that they do and with the workplace. Meaningful and relevant dialogue between colleagues, managers and leaders is critical to ensuring progress is being made and contributions are valued. 

  • Unity

As the saying goes – ‘We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided’. Organisations and teams that are united in focus and action, maximise efficiencies and outcomes through collaborative actions.

  • Productive

Healthy workplace cultures create far more than just a ‘feel-good’ factor. Employees are happier, more engaged, motivated and ultimately work harder and are far more productive.

  • Trust

This can be a harder practice for some more than others, however it is a critical part of building successful teams and businesses. Individuals who are trusted and empowered to deliver on their responsibilities are invariably more productive, efficient and innovative with their solutions and outcomes.

  • Celebrate & Acknowledge Success

Success builds success. Stopping to celebrate and acknowledge great work, outcomes and key contributors is essential in building employee loyalty and long term engagement. Encouraging the expression of gratitude and appreciation from all levels within an organisation is a powerful propellant for future success.

We all influence the culture of our workplace, regardless of the position we hold within them. We all ‘run onto the field’ when we turn up to work each day and when we all play our position we can create successful and amazing places to work.

I would love to hear more about your thoughts on the critical elements of workplace culture.

Margot – The Career Diplomat[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to know more about how to engage your teams and grow your workplace culture, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”″]

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