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Global Flipchart #18


April 2020

Hope for Teams in Troubled Times

Jeffer London, CPF

Teams, like all of us, feel better when they know where they are going and how to get there. 

“I am looking for hope for my people” said another client last week. Meanwhile, the window showed the aftermath of terrorism; while the newspaper on the sill carried headlines of Trump, Brexit and refugees. It seems everybody could use a bit more hope. This was the third client briefing of the month that could be summed up as “Seeking Hope.”

Meanwhile, debriefings after team events this year have offered feedback such as “I am re-energized.” “I feel inspired.” And “Yes, we can.”

So, how can we move from seeking hope to being hopeful?

Hope, Explained

Researchers say hope is an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large. For teams, it means they confidently expect a positive future.

Positive psychologist Charles Richard Snyder's explains how hope impacts all aspects of life, from health, to work, to education and personal meaning. He also offers a simple recipe to have more hopeful thinking. We are more hopeful when we have:

          Goals – Approaching life in a goal-oriented way.

          Pathways – Finding different ways to achieve your goals.

          Agency – Believing that you can instigate change and achieve these goals. 

In other words, hope is defined as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways. Snyder argues that individuals who are able to realize these 3 components and develop a belief in their ability are hopeful people who can establish clear goals, imagine multiple workable pathways toward those goals, and persevere, even when obstacles get in their way.

Motivated Teams

When working with groups to establish and clarify their direction (goals), the way forward (pathways), and the resources to get there (agency), motivation and hope are a natural result. This is proved over and over again in the feedback after workshops with teams who get this right. When they know where they are going, know how to get there, and have the necessary physical and personal resources, they feel positive. And when they feel positive, they act positive. Say good-bye to sabotage, moaning and absenteeism – because there is hope.

Questions to solve with your team:
Goals – Do we have a clear mission, vision, goals and objectives?
Pathways – Is it clear how to move forward as individuals and as a team?
Agency – Do we have the inner strength, resources and tools to do this?

Lifting Oneself Up
Dr. Barbara Fredrickson argues that hope comes into its own when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. She argues that with great need comes an unusually wide range of ideas, as well as such positive emotions as happiness and joy, courage, and empowerment.

Fredrickson suggests to look for options in four areas of one’s self:

Cognitive – How can I use by brain to research challenges and solutions?
Psychological – How can I use my heart to open intuition and sentiment?
Social – How can I get ideas, support or inspiration from my friends, family or colleagues?
Physical – What actions can I take to start things moving? 

When teams face opposition or crisis, a group reflection into these four areas proves fruitful every time. We need not find thousands of ideas in each category– often one insight is enough to offer hope, and establish a realistic sense of optimism.

What gives you hope?