How to become a hope-based leader

When you lead with hope, you won't be the only one who is transformed. How do you become a hope-based leader? By loving yourself, and those you lead. It truly is as simple as it sounds.

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  • There are essentially two kinds of leaders: Those who lead with fear and those who lead with hope.

  • A plethora of behaviors surface when people lead with fear: rigidity, entitlement, favoritism, bullying, pretentiousness, insecurity, gossip, and many others.

  • Typically, in order for an employee, athlete, or student to advance in a fear-based environment, that person will probably need to “play the game,” and pander to everyone else's ego. Yet, doing so won’t guarantee a promotion, or a spot on a team. Worse yet, the employees, athletes and students stress out with the prospect of returning to that fear-based culture on a regular basis.  This type of leadership can be found in parenting, as well. If parents operate through fear, children live with that dread 24 hours a day, seven days per week. 

  • Luckily, hope-based leaders and parents exist, too. These are people who inspire creativity, engagement and self-efficacy. For example, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com has created a culture of trust by asking employees about themselves, soliciting advice and feedback from them, listening, and investing in them. These same strategies can work in developing a healthy relationship with your children. Encourage communication with your child. Welcome involvement in some decision-making opportunities and be attentive when feedback is offered. 

  • Just like Hsieh helps transform his employees into incredible people through his hope-based leadership, so can you in your own environment. This begins with a self-transformation, which will ultimately create a ripple effect through your team, business, classroom, and most importantly your family.

  • Here’s how to begin building a hope-based environment and become a hope-based leader. It’s really simple.

  • 1. Love yourself

  • Love who you are. If you don’t love yourself, how are you going to love, believe in, coach, and inspire others? Furthermore, people don’t follow someone who doesn’t believe in and love herself. If you don’t love yourself, you really lose credibility and respect.

  • How do you do this? Start by finding every good thing about you. Make a list. Look at it every day. There is a change model called "Appreciative Inquiry." I love it because it asks, “What’s going right instead of wrong?” Ask yourself, “What am I doing right?” Then celebrate those things, including how you are making a positive difference and that you’re a valuable human being. The more you do this, the more you will begin to love who you are.

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  • 2. Use affirmations

  • Utilizing affirmations like, “I love myself, I love myself, I lovemyself,” or, “I'm doing this, I'm doing this, I’m doing this,” is a great way to lay the foundation for what you want to become.

  • Essentially, you have to change out of a fear-based mentality. Think of as many positive affirmations as you can, then not only recite them, but post them in various places (i.e., your car, bathroom, in your Blackberry, iPad, and as your screen savers) so that you are constantly reminded of your worth, value, purpose, and greatness. One person I know records and listens to them when she drives and works out. Another sings a positive song several times a day as her affirmation.

  • 3. Visualize yourself as a leader

  • Next, you have to visualize what kind of leader and person you want to become. Capture a picture of that person in your mind. Walk, talk and act like that person. The more you do this, the easier and more comfortable it will become. Eventually, it will become second-nature; you will be that person.

  • Many people tend to visualize what they don't want. Always visualize what you want to happen.

  • 4. Assert yourself

  • People like assertive leaders. When you learn to assert yourself, make sure to do it through your voice (tone), mind, body language, word choice, and actions. It won’t hurt to spend time with and learn from other hope-based leaders who have mastered being assertive and other hope-based traits.

  • Once, I hired a coach to help train me to be more assertive. This coach had me recite into a tape recorder negative statements I had made and then play it back. “Do you believe this?” she asked. “No,” was my common answer. The more I did this the more assertive I became.

  • 5. Believe in yourself

  • Believe in yourself and your ability no matter what happens or what anyone says or thinks. According to American psychologist, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, “What you think about me is none of my business.”

  • Unfortunately, many people get focused on seeking approval from others, even from those they do not know. That search can really mess them up. Believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that you were created to do great things. Then, pray to discover those great things. In the meantime, think confident thoughts and be confident in your actions and words. Consider for a moment the power in this practice. The example you present in believing in yourself and not relying on the approval of others offers a valuable model which your children may emulate. 

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  • When you love who you are, recite positive affirmations, visualize yourself as a leader, assert yourself, and believe in yourself, you will be in a much better place and position to love others. You will be on your way to becoming the hope-based leader and the strong, confident parent you were created to be. Your employees, athletes, students, and your family will thank you.

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Cynthia Kimball is a professional speaker, trainer and doctoral student in workforce educational leadership. 

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