1. Section Editor(s): Raso, Rosanne MS, RN, NEA-BC

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I don't know about you, but I've spent years proclaiming, "Hope isn't a strategy," even mentioning it somewhat disparagingly in last month's editorial on clarity of expectations. How can a path to accountability and outcomes be paved with hope? Most of us, especially those who are trained in work plans and/or left-brain dominant, need clear and organized strategic steps. The emotion of hope as a strategy just isn't in our leadership toolboxes. Or should it be?

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Let's be clear. Achieving SMART goals-specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound-needs a plan. Your readmission rate for congestive heart failure patients won't decrease without a deep dive into root causes and multidisciplinary interventions across the continuum. Saying "I hope the rate will come down now that we've identified the problems" doesn't work. Or maybe you're focusing on your nurse engagement scores-they won't increase without addressing dissatisfiers, satisfiers, and more. Hope alone won't cut it. You also can't hope staff performance issues away. This is one of the toughest components of our leadership practice, often left to hope in desperation. Have you seen that work?


So I disregarded hope until recently, when I saw a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article titled "Hope Is a Strategy (Well, Sort Of)." The Holy Grail for business strategy was touting hope? Your antennae are probably standing up now, too. Maybe you're wishing that you can ditch the laborious work plans in favor of hope. Not so fast.


Yet, there's a place-a strong place-for the optimistic and trustful leader to instill hope or even feel hope for the future and success. The HBR author noted that hope doesn't give us the path or a work plan but, when you experience those inevitable twists and turns, it can be a guiding light. Hmm, that does make sense. When you and your team are optimistic and positive, you can get through tough times believing that goal achievement is still possible. It's the opposite of throwing in the towel. It's...hope.


Another business author, writing for the Gallup Business Journal, offered a similar message, "Making Hope a Business Strategy." What? Another prestigious journal believing in hope? It turns out that we all need hope. How can our staff members be engaged in our work without imagining bright futures together, making a difference, and driving toward a shared vision? Being clear and consistent about that vision, as well as joyful about the future, instills hope.


To top it off, Forbes published "Leadership Through Hope: Lessons from Reggae Music." Okay, I give up. I was wrong. Hope is important, very important. It's powerful and helps us move ahead even when things aren't going well.


My paradigm shifted significantly from originally downplaying hope, even being disdainful, to believing in it. It's in the transformational leader's toolbox after all and can be a strategy for success. If you and your team don't believe that you can make it better, then success is much harder to achieve, if not improbable. Hope is exciting and meaningful, and can be a driving force behind your team's efforts. Let's have hope and use it wisely in leading our teams.



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