Posted by Mike Kaaks

29 November 2012

One this year's AFL finals matches was very one-sided. I watched happily because my team was in front but of course that was not the case for many other, not the least the team being beaten. As the third quarter was coming to a close one of the commentators asked special comments colleague Leigh Matthews - a giant of the game both as a player and a coach - what is there for the losing coach to say to his players in the three-quarter time break.
He can give them hope said Matthews.
Interestingly (and I'm assuming there was no talking point memo driving the behaviour) all I heard from commentators through the remainder of the finals was that coaches had to give their players hope. The point had really resonated. It connected with me too.
Those who know me are aware that I love to see thinks in terms of a continuum. It's a great way to consider the ambiguities that we face in business especially. It lead me to think of the counterpoint to hope - despair. Just saying the word takes the wind out of you. Clearly none of us would choose to be at the despair end of the continuum, but the word is there because it is a condition in which people can find themselves. Unless they are good leaders, or in the influence of a good leader. Leaders create hope in the face of the most challenging of circumstances.
The following extract from Posner and Kouzes wonderful book The Leadership Challenge describes this far better than can I…..
Constituents look for leaders who demonstrate enthusiastic and genuine belief in the capacity of others, who strengthen peoples will, who supply the means to achieve, and who express optimism for the future. Leaders must keep hope alive, even in the most difficult of times. Without hope there can be no courage - and this is no time for the timid. Leaders must summon their will if they are to mobilise the personal and organisational resources to triumph against the odds. Hope is essential to achieving the highest levels of performance. Hope enables people to transcend the difficulties of today and envision the potentialities of tomorrow.
Where is your leadership on the hope continuum?