Do You Follow a Leader Who Deals in Hope?

March 27, 2014

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Hope inspires us to believe that better, brighter times are yet to come.

Hope inspires us to believe that better, brighter times are yet to come.

Last week I participated in three days of intense training near our national headquarters in Washington, D.C. I left filled with hope and optimism after I’d met with some of the top leaders in our organization, (the American Red Cross).

On my flight home, I began thinking about my renewed hope, and the quote from Napoleon Bonaparte pushed its way to the forefront of my mind. “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

I thought about the leaders I’ve admired. They instill hope in others because they have:

  1. A vision. Leaders know where they are going. They envision what success will look like, and they paint a vivid picture so others can share in that vision. On the final day of last week’s training, our senior vice president for communications sat at my table in the dining room. As I asked him specific questions about the monumental changes occurring within the organization, he responded by saying, “I have a dream.” He then painted a picture of our yet-to-be-realized future. I could see it! I wanted to be part of it!
  2. A plan. Not only do great leaders know where we are going, they have a plan for how we’ll get there. They may delegate much of the navigation to managers who will guide us through the treacherous terrain, yet they always have a plan.
  3. Situational awareness. I don’t trust leaders who have a Pollyanna-like optimism. I want to follow someone who comprehends the complexity and challenges of the situation, yet is not daunted by that reality. Good leaders are fully aware they will face obstacles such as the scarcity of finances, the machinations of political opponents and the stubbornness of skeptics. Yet they press on.
  4. A team. Good leaders know they cannot achieve success alone. They recruit, train and empower competent team members. Like Moses, they have an uncanny way of reminding their followers that we’re all in this together.  Although we may spend time wandering in the wilderness, our leaders create teamwork by reminding us we are headed towards the Promised Land that flows with milk and honey.
  5. Resources. Too many people wallow in inertia, waiting until they are given ample resources. Early in my career a mentor said, “Resources flow to achievers.” That concept stuck with me. Early victories often are achieved with meager resources, but as momentum builds and success becomes a way of life, resources will follow. After all, wise investors want to entrust their resources to leaders who promise a great return on investment.

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Quotes I Love

September 29, 2010

Quotations inspire me. They focus me. They motivate me.

I like the way an eloquent quote can elegantly reflect the light of resplendent wisdom. To me, each quotation has special value.

I collect quotes as a gem collector might gather precious stones. Like gemstones, quotes were never meant to be hoarded and stored in a dark, out-of-sight vault. Rather, they are most appreciated when shared and displayed for the enrichment of all.

If you also appreciate quotes, I invite you to meander through this collection of my favorites, categorized by these topics:

  1. Being Creative
  2. Planning and Goal Setting
  3. Being a Leader
  4. Learning, Teaching and Being Well Educated
  5. Understanding Life’s Transitions
  6. Marketing Effectively
  7. Achieving Success
  8. Creating a Compelling Vision
  9. Overcoming Adversity
  10. Chuckling with Yogi

10 Things I’ve Observed about Vision and Strategy

August 19, 2009

Helen Keller was right when she said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” It seems like everyone talks about the importance of vision, but very few people have a vivid image of what they hope their future will look like.

Following are 10 things I’ve observed during more than 20 years of work experience:

  1. Where there is no vision, people perish.
  2. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
  3. Tactics not tied to strategy are nothing more than busywork.
  4. When you and I are not pursuing the same goal, then we’re not on the same team.
  5. When you and I focus on the same goal from different vantage points, we have stereoscopic vision that gives us better depth perception.
  6. The effectiveness of a vision statement can be measured in its ability to inspire people to rally around a shared picture of what can be—and must be—their new reality.
  7. A compelling vision is future-focused and usually threatens those deeply vested in the status quo.
  8. Progress always requires change, but not all change is progress.
  9. Every project can be improved by periodically asking, “Why are we doing this?”
  10. As Stephen Covey says, it is essential to “begin with the end in mind.”

What would you add? Have you been inspired by someone who had an exceptional vision for the future? What did you learn from that person? How did he or she inspire you?


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