The world needs hope. Countries need hope. Cities need hope. Businesses need hope. Individuals need hope. Servant Leaders understand this, acknowledge this, and act to bring hope to individuals in their teams. Servant Leaders aim to build businesses that bring hope to their employees and their clients.
WHAT IS HOPE?
Hope is a deep conviction that the future can be better than the present. Not only can the future be better than the present but hope also believes that it is within our means, capabilities, and influence to create this future that is better. Imagine believing that? Imagine believing with conviction that your best days are ahead of you and that you can be the author of the story. How would that change your life?
Why do we struggle to believe that our future can be better? Our world has become one of sensationalism where we overemphasise the bad and quickly forget the good. People, social media, and mainstream media latch onto the negative much quicker than the positive. It is as if bad news sells faster and in more significant quantities than good news. Unfortunately, we notice how news agencies give vast amounts of coverage to people who bring division through hate speech. People with convictions that discriminate and are on the edges of societal values are continually being given attention to because it sells and, therefore, society starts believing these divisive figures because: “If you shout something loud enough and long enough, people start believing it!” Or so the saying goes.
Often, we hear people talk about the good old days. Looking back? The good old days? When people were dying of diseases that do not exist anymore? When starvation was rampant? When colonialism was at the order of the day? When women had no rights and gay people were seen as being seriously ill? When hundreds and thousands of children and mothers died at birth? Where are the good old days? Let’s be honest. The world is a much better place than it was half a century ago. It is by no means perfect; we still have some of the above (in smaller quantities), and the challenges of a hyper-connected world, with man and machine moving closer to each other, with industries being disrupted, with change becoming faster and shorter, with severe mental health challenges appearing, as well as cyberwars becoming more prominent. Each generation will have their unique challenges, but we have previous generations to thank for living with hope and making our world a better place.
Even the workplace has improved, with programmes to assist employees and better working conditions being the order of the day. Yet there are still vast amounts of slave practices across the world, but companies and countries are being confronted about this fact and held accountable in some instances. There is no denying that the world is getting better, and hope says that our worlds’ best days are still to come.
Hope is difficult for people who cannot believe in the future and that the future will be better. Hope is also difficult for people who believe that they have no agency to affect the future. Psychological research has taught us that humans get stuck with the belief that they have no agency to change and improve their future. There are basically two reasons for this. Firstly, when children are brought up in comfort and are shielded by their parents to such an extent that they do not learn to face adversity and deal with setbacks and failures, they are robbed of the opportunity to develop the resilience needed to hope. Secondly, children exposed to severe trauma and who fail to escape from their traumatic context develop deeply held beliefs that they are victims of other people’s behaviour. The figure below explains the development of a lack of agency:
The individuals mentioned above become employees in businesses, and they must be led by leaders who bring hope. Servant Leaders are aware that everybody falls somewhere on this scale; we are unique and have unique challenges. We all need hope, some days more than others, and therefore one of the key principles of Servant Leaders is to bring hope to their workplace and their companies.
Servant Leaders bring hope by coaching their people in teams and individually. Coaching the Servant Leader engages their people in conversations that stimulate thinking and challenge long-held beliefs and assumptions. Coaching your people is hard work. It takes dedication and a commitment to build the kind of relationships that would be conducive for coaching conversations. Therefore, many leaders shy away from the responsibility. Servant Leaders live to serve, and one of the best ways to serve your people is by having conversations with them that produce growth and develop agency. Servant Leaders embrace the responsibility to coach because it is one of the most effective ways to serve.
We teach our clients a straightforward and practical way to coach in the workplace environment. It is through a programme we call “Performance Coaching @ Work”. In this programme we give the delegates a basic phased process to follow:
THE A-2-D COACHING PROCESS
A = Assessments:
The process starts with assessments to assist the coach and the employee to gain more insight and understanding. Assessments include the following:
- Stress Levels
B = Building:
The second phase in the coaching process is building on the assessments and identifying growth and development areas. The coach will, together with the employee, identify vulnerabilities and factors that need to be addressed.
C = Challenge:
The third phase in the coaching process is to identify the challenges that need to be overcome. No journey is without obstacles, and here the coach and the employee will together identify the obstacles that could prevent growth.
D = Development:
The fourth phase in the coaching process would be to develop an action plan for growth. Once this plan is developed and strategies and tactics are in place, the employee will take ownership of the journey. The role of the coach will evolve into one of accountability. Sessions will become less frequent, and the client will apply what has been learned in the process.
Through this process, Servant Leaders help their people identify which beliefs prevent agency through reflective assessments followed by conversations that build on and challenge the results of these assessments. Finally, the Servant Leader assists the employee to develop a plan to address the areas of growth needed to develop more agency and hope for the future.
THE IMPACT OF HOPE
What does an environment look like that thrives on hope? It is a place where people genuinely believe that they have the agency to cultivate a better future for those who come after them. Imagine a company where the focus is on building a business for generations to come. Imagine a company that believes it is their responsibility and their privilege to create an organisation that better serves their employees, better serves its customers, shareholders, and all community stakeholders. What will the impact be of this company?
There will be a great sense of meaning and purpose. This will be a company that creates a better future. This will be a company that gives more than it takes. This will be a company that sows and sows with the hope that the seed will sprout and bring about an abundance for everybody. This will be a company that is highly productive, healthy, focused, and visionary. These are the kind of companies that Servant Leaders start, build and multiply.
Author and Contributor: Hermann Du Plessis – Founder & Director @ TTLI (LinkedIn Bio https://www.linkedin.com/in/hermann-du-plessis-01b17618/)