What is most important for me as a leader to focus on during these challenging times?

Published in Womeninc, July 2009

by Diana Gabriel

What we need from leaders, now, is their ability to instill hope and to maintain and strengthen a culture of trust. This can be a very challenging, precarious dance. Many of us wrestle with this every day as we make hard decisions, deliver bad news, or choose between two equally worthy programs or ideas. Women everywhere are faced with this same dilemma at home. This dance requires new vision and new courage for instilling hope. Transformational shifts in direction come from those who are willing to act outside of the status quo.

Here are some of the principles and habits to practice in order to lead with hope:

1. Create tomorrow, don’t maintain yesterday. Anything that doesn’t support your vision for your organization, home and community needs to be abandoned. Be innovative!
2. See your challenges as opportunities. Welcome unexpected difficulties because they represent opportunities to make something better. View problems in the context of the larger vision. Imagine the possibilities.
3. Abandon scarcity thinking for abundance thinking. Practice gratitude daily and stop watching the sensationalized news.
4. Be willing to risk. When you move out of your comfort zone, you move into a place of new possibility.
5. Take action. Thinking about it isn’t enough. Be bold!

Transparency is important in order to maintain a culture of trust, which presents the challenge of how much to reveal of difficult realties, while still instilling hope and confidence. Transparent leadership that builds credibility requires one to master the skills of emotional intelligence and to practice discernment.

Try the following strategies with your family, co-workers and community, and step into the kind of leadership that is called for, today:

1. Be trustworthy. Tell the truth. Deliver bad news well. Apologize when you make mistakes. Reward trust. Hold everyone accountable.

2. Be empowering. Make a commitment to others. Show genuine care and concern for everyone you are in contact with. Encourage teamwork and play to people’s strengths. Keep it positive.

3. Do not abuse power. Leadership is service. Give of your gifts and do not take advantage of others.

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