Leaders are dealers in hope
"You need to be realistic in your goals and aware of the main headwinds you might face, but by delivering a message of hope to your team they will work with you to achieve the impossible." says Piers Daniell, County Councillor for Alcester.
Irrespective of where you are leading people it is important to remember that your role is to inspire with vision and enthusiasm. When we reflect on our own challenges and ambitions, we need to remain positive to those around us so we can achieve the impossible.
Having founded several businesses, some which have become rather successful, others not so much - my resounding activity has been positivity. Motivating and inspiring, working towards a goal the whole team can get behind. Nobody is motivated by doom and gloom. If you spend all your time talking about challenges and failures, then they become self-fulfilling. Instead of looking upwards and forward your team will be looking to the ground, fearful of the future.
When I was young someone told me the moto that if you aim for the sky, you won't get off the ground, but if you aim for the stars, you will reach the sky. I have lived by that every day since and believe wholeheartedly in big, ambitious goals. While others looking from the outside in might find it somewhat ambitious and believe in inevitable failure you will be surprised that those in your team will start to believe it is possible as you move towards that goal.
When I mentor new entrepreneurs, I always start with their long term goals. Most people might think 6-months to a year ahead whereas I like to think in decades. Since the age of 15 I have always had a 15-year goal and having met that goal at 32 I have another I am working to for when I am 45... only a few years to go! The beauty about looking so far ahead is that you can't really plan the journey and what that short term steps will be. By not concentrating about the inevitable challenges, you will face and keeping you and your team looking up at the horizon, helps to keep that momentum and positive motivation that you will prevail.
This doesn't mean that you should ignore your reality. You need to be realistic in your goals and aware of the main headwinds you might face, but by delivering a message of hope to your team they will work with you to achieve the impossible.
I am sure being a leader is hardest on the battlefield where nobody knows who is going to win, what the cost will come at and how long it will take. Which is why Napoleon coined the phrase 'leaders and dealers in hope' as he realised like so many before, that without the positive vision of the future why would you put your life on the line.
Luckily for most of us the stakes aren’t that high, but we can take the lesson back into our businesses and paint a picture of hope, that while the storm looks fierce the clouds will part. All of us are facing several challenges, some more than others, but we are all in control of our narrative. Now more than ever staff need to be told about the opportunity and why their effort will be rewarded. If you look at your challenges as opportunities to strengthen your business, focus what you are good at and deliver an incredible experience to your customers your business will flourish. But you first need to persuade your team of that vision first.