It was only the other day when an organization approached me to speak to their executives during these tough times. In the Army there is a very famous adage; “Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do“. This principle has stood by me during all the tough times I had. And yes, we did have some tough times. Over the 25 years in the uniform, we’ve faced challenges galore. Some inflicted due to the vagaries of mother nature, and some due to the actions of our adversaries.
Thus it got me to contemplate: if there is one thing, just one thing a leader should do, what should it be? I think the Leader should be the messenger of hope. The core of leadership is H . O . P . E . A research paper highlights that in the US Presidential elections, the candidate who wins is the one who can assure the citizens and instill HOPE. And to think of it logically, the leader can be pragmatic, can be a realist but unless he can infuse hope, show a better future, assure of the good things to come, he is no leader.
Hope gives us the courage to progress, to move forward. Towards a better future. A better life. It thus allays fear and gears us up to the face the next challenge. It helps us on our feet. It helps us re-group. Thus HOPE and leadership are two sides of a coin. Once you gear up, ready for the challenge, it is HOPE that gives us confidence. And of course HOPE is contagious. Just as it is not possible to live on love and fresh air alone. Hope has to be accompanied by hard work. Roll up your sleeves and get down to it. The leader shoulder to shoulder.
I remember once, we were to conduct an ‘Firing Competition’ in our Division. And being a professional competition, it’s was a matter of pride to win, more so being the conducting unit. The HOPE of winning the competition alone would not fructify into reality. We got down to it. The officer-in-charge and the men participating in the competition, moved into the firing ranges and started their practice in right earnest. Day and night (night firing was also part of the competition). With regular practice, religious maintenance of the weapons and looking into each minute detail, we put in our best foot forward. Yes, we won. But with HOPE alone we wouldn’t have achieved our result. HOPE has to be accompanied by hard work. HOPE has power to push relentlessly.
Any organization that can inject HOPE in the organization will succeed in these trying times. To paint a picture (some may call it Vision) where each one is aware of their role/ part and soon, the whole is greater than the parts. But to instill HOPE a very basic ingredient is a must. T . R . U . S . T . Without trust the organization/ members will find the words of the leader hollow. Trust is built with transparency. Trust is built with honesty.
In our pursuit, we will make mistakes. All the operations in the Army are followed by an ‘After-Action’ report. What went right and what went wrong. What could be done differently? And these lessons are disseminated across the organizations in sector. Learnings are faster and the institution gets stronger. Over time it is the organization that benefits. To prepare any organization to face the challenges of the future … The Leader must instill HOPE.
It all begins with H . O . P . E .