Hope is important in life — and the workplace is a large part of most people’s lives. We spend more time with our coworkers each day than we do with our families.
As a leader, you need to understand your job is to help your employees through the unfolding of their life events. Positively affecting the lives of others is one of the most rewarding things leaders can do. If you can instill the picture of “why,” the picture of “how” is much easier to paint.
When organizations find their why, they’ll find their way. When you know why you’re doing something, the hope of a better future comes alive. Leaders need to plant the purpose first to create hope for the future. When there’s hope in a person’s life, it will roll into the organization. When the organization has hope, the future is unlimited; we believe in ourselves and in what we’re doing. Belief that we can be better creates belief that we can do better. When we believe in what we are doing as a company, the team comes together and achieves significance, not just success.
We can talk about engagement, employee surveys or whatever your company may measure to feel good about itself. But what are you really doing and why? More importantly, what are the stories of how your company is affecting lives? I once asked company leaders what they saw in their products. Most of the responses were descriptions of the product, until one leader said he saw peace. Isn’t a picture of peace more inspiring than a picture of your products? Hope brings belief in what the company does and the effect on those it serves. It’s an impact above revenue, profits or whatever your company measures.
Start by turning your organizational chart upside down. Begin to serve the people you influence. Get out of your office and build relationships with employees. Through these connections, you can spread the message of hope in a better future.
Think about the way you’re thinking as a management team. Are you distrustful of each other? Do you have a negative attitude about what the team can accomplish? Do you have faith in the talents and skills of the employees? Be brave enough to closely examine your culture.
Give employees a big purpose and make it part of your communication day in and day out. Care about your employees and help them see a positive vision of the future, not just for the company, but for themselves.
Other companies besides Datron and the Servant Leadership Institute that have done this include Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Starbucks, Ken Blanchard Companies, Southwest Airlines, and Chick-fil-A. All are servant-led.
The most rewarding experiences for me from our servant-led culture are the stories of transformation from our employees’ families. When the hope of a better future becomes a reality in your employees’ lives, it will become a reality in your company.