Don’t Take Away Someone’s Hope, For Hope May Be All They Have!

Leadership is an onerous responsibility for you are responsible not only for yourself but for so many other people who look up to you as their leader. So, when you nurture hope as a leader, you nurture dreams and create possibilities.

Hope is a very powerful thing. It can make people endure enormous hardships and still be positive. It can also power you through those times when everything seems dismal and nothing seems to go right.

Many of us have experienced such times and know what it is like to go through bad times. When you judge other people from a position of strength, you may not always be doing the right thing. In your career, you will have several opportunities to do that.

It’s all about perspective!

There’s a story that goes…

A 24-year-old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…

“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”

Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24-year-old’s childish behaviour with pity, suddenly he again exclaimed…

“Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”

The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man…

“Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?” The old man smiled and said…“I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.”

Every single person in this universe has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might startle you!

You will meet a lot of people in your career. Remember, no two people are alike. Where they come from, what they have experienced in their lives, what they count as their accomplishments and what they consider as hardship, are all different.

When this is so how can one person pass judgment on another person who is perhaps a little junior and less experienced and discourage that person totally? As a leader, you have a responsibility to nurture people and motivate them.

Strangely enough I have seen this happen many times at work. I have come across people who have cast aspersions on other people’s capabilities and actively discouraged them from pursuing their dreams.

The thing is when a person who is supposed to be good at what he or she does, tells you that you are not good enough to work in their area, you tend to take it seriously. You believe that this opinion is cast in stone when actually you should be taking it with a pinch of salt.

The past cannot be a predicator of things to come in the future. People change, circumstances change, as do many other things.

If you want to be in a role where you manage client relationships and if your communication skills are not good then it should not come in your way as long as you have a passion for it and enjoy doing it. You can always acquire new skills. The problem really is when you are not good at something and have no interest in that area as well.

As you rise in an organisation one of your key responsibilities is to develop your team and help them to grow.  Helping people achieve their aspirations at work is something you have to consider as your responsibility.

As a leader, this puts you in a very delicate position. Many a time, it is possible that you may come across people on your team whose performance leaves a lot to be desired or who are performing below par. In such cases be cautious before denouncing the person and branding him or her as incompetent. Quite often you may also be responsible for your subordinate’s low performance if you have not supported them the way you should have.

Think about it! If you have a team member who does not possess the technical skill that is required to execute a particular project and you deploy him or her on that project without any training or coaching, you are setting up your subordinate to fail.

If that person does not do well, can you really blame him or her? After all, you are equally to blame. Some times, when you have a position of authority you forget that you were also once in the same position as your subordinates and that they deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.

People who encourage others to grow are those who are the most valued in this industry. Real leaders are those that bring out the best in others and motivate them to work towards a common goal and in the process also help them realise their dreams.

If you study people, you will find some redeeming quality in every person you meet and every person you work with. The thing is that you need to be a person who looks for the best in other people.  If you are in the habit of running down people, particularly in public then it is unlikely you will find any good quality in the people you interact with. Since you are looking for faults and issues, that is all that you will find.

Even in the most hopeless of situations, something must be going right and something can be done to improve whatever it is that has gone wrong. It is no different with people. Even those you find are lagging behind in their performance, not displaying any initiative or interest in their work, could have some issues that you could address and get them back on track. Usually, there are reasons that trigger problems and that make people behave in a negative manner. If you, as a leader, can pinpoint it you would be in a much better position to address it.

No two persons are alike. They are all different. One person may be shy and reticent and if you treat this person harshly and criticise him or her in public, the damage that you do may make them retreat into a shell and perform even worse than before.

As a leader, it helps when you adapt your behaviour to situations and the type of people you are dealing with. For a sincere but shy person, it helps to start with reinforcing whatever they have done right before criticising that person. For outgoing and confident people, it would help not to hurt their ego and belittle them in front of their peers as being held in esteem by their peer group would matter a lot to them.

Leadership is all about building and nurturing relationships and motivating people to achieve common goals. If you treat your subordinates and colleagues with courtesy, you will not only build enduring relationships and improve their performance but also add to your leadership skills and image.

In the long run, organisations cannot afford to promote people who antagonise other people or treat them badly, to leadership levels. In your journey to the top, people are your best allies. The better you treat them, the more they will reward you with their loyalty and be forgiving of your mistakes.  On the other hand, if you are constantly critical of people or treat them badly as a rule then expect the same behaviour to come back to you whenever anyone you treated badly is in a position to pay you back.

You don’t become big by making other’s look small.

So, don’t take away someone’s hope, for hope may be all that they have!




About the Author:

Srinivasan is an independent consultant working in the area of strategy and technology interventions in the public sector domain. He has worked in companies like IBM and TCS and has over 30 years of experience spanning 24 countries.

Image courtesy-Flickr; Story courtesy-Livin3

Srinivasan R

Management Consultant at Independent Consultant