Elements and Tips for Hope-Centred Leadership

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.[1] As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation”.[2]

Hope has been an intriguing topic throughout the history of humankind. Many thinkers, from the ancient Greeks to modern times, have reflected on this perplexing power that enables people to act even when a clear analysis of all the available data would make them lose heart or even despair. Hope helps people to imagine a better future, creating positive energy to move forward. For this reason, it has been described as “an integral part of what it is to be human” or “the most human of all mental feelings.”

How does hope become part of leadership. We need hope and leadership more than ever before. Hope has always been involved in the leadership process, but sometimes we haven’t noticed that it was there. It will be clear that there was hope if we think about the most relevant political, scientific, and business leaders of the last few decades. From renowned names like Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King, to some of our current leaders of hope such as –

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

The PM has not only been called the most effective leader on the planet but she has also been lauded for her leadership style, which is grounded in empathy. Following the Christchurch massacre, her response was not to scapegoat, but to tighten gun laws. When a global pandemic appeared on the horizon, she stepped up to deliver clear, consistent, and dare-we-say soothing messaging, that is not only proving reassuring and hopeful during uncertain times but is also showing as extremely effective. This proves that you don’t have to adopt toxic masculinity to get the country’s top leadership spot, or to spew distracting and divisive rhetoric, like another leader we all know.

Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter

Artist and activist Patrisse Cullors are also one of three Black Lives Matter co-founders who not only held up a much-needed mirror to our society’s misshapen norms and the way systemic racism propped them up, they’ve also stepped up in a big way to bring about meaningful and lasting change, inspiring people around the globe to do the same.

Just to name a few….

Hope serves as the essential foundation of leadership; it is the force behind the process of encouraging hope in oneself and others, reaching a consensus on necessary tasks and the proper way to carry them out, and then guiding the individual and collective actions required to attain shared goals. From this definition, it’s clear that hope is the very cornerstone of leadership.

History has taught us that hope is deeply anchored in the human experience even though crises can, at their worst, deprive us of this sense of trust…

— Bart de Smet, Chairman of the Board, Ageas

How can we implement hope-centred leadership? There are seven key elements:

1. Inspiring, creating and communicating a vision and one of hope: 

A leader’s primary purpose is to establish a course of direction and a vision for the future. As Warren Bennis remarks, “Leaders all share one key characteristic – a strong devotion to an idea and a determined purpose. Leaders aren’t simply goal-oriented, they are motivated by their vision and strive to make it a reality.” Richard Boyatzis research has demonstrated that by moving the organisation and oneself beyond their present situation and igniting imaginations to a better tomorrow, a “positive emotional attractor” is created. This is something that doesn’t take place immediately, but instead requires a gradual procedure. Maintaining a vision, as well as attaining small successes, are both essential to build hope in an organisation.

2. Building a sense of possibility:

Leadership always starts within. A leader’s central responsibility when striving for a hope-centred strategy is to ascertain why the desired outcome is a possibility (though not guaranteed). This outlook of potential may be based on the leader’s own capabilities, external forces like the agency of others, or profoundly held convictions such as historical materialism, scientific growth, or spiritual influence in history which might indicate an optimistic future. Additionally, a change in the surrounding environment may introduce unforeseen possibilities. Without an intellectually sound possibility, hope may devolve into mere wishful thinking.

3. Setting goals:

Goals are the foundation for building hope, propelling the organization to strive for its vision. Scholar Kim Cameron coined the term “Everest goals” to represent ambitious objectives that exceed expectations. These kinds of goals are inherently good, allowing for positive and sustainable energy that contributes to the betterment of others. A traditional goal may be “We want to earn $10 million in profit by 2023”; however, an Everest goal is far more purposeful, such as “We will guarantee that ten million people will have secure retirement by the year 2023”.

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4. Establishing relationships that provide energy:

William Lynch asserts that hope lies within us, but we can be encouraged to hope by external sources. Creating strong and compassionate relationships is key to developing, sustaining, and strengthening hope. Positive encouragement, expressions of confidence in someone’s capacity to surpass adversity, and simply being there for someone are all ways to help spark someone else’s hope. Research suggests that the feeling of hope can be transferred from one person to another, highlighting its powerful emotional impact. Hope is contagious.

5. Generate multiple pathways

Charles Richard Snyder, a leading figure in the study of hope, sees hope as a combination of agency and pathways. Having multiple pathways to success increases the chances of accomplishing the envisioned future and encourages leaders to give their teams numerous options that amplify the sense of possibility that helps sustain hope and reach the desired goal. Pathway thinking should become more precise and well-defined as progress is made toward the ultimate vision. Those with a high-hope mentality excel at finding alternate routes.

6. Develop strategic patience:

Looking into its etymology, ‘hope’ in Latin-based languages shares the same root as ‘waiting for’. This concept of waiting or having patience is central to the act of hoping. Though we may consider patience to be passive, Patrick Shade suggested that it can in fact be a very active endeavour. Having the patience to continue a pursuit, despite a lack of an immediate outcome, allows us to stay focused and continue in the hope that our goals may be reached in due time.

7. Make hope, courage, and kindness your compass.

When I researched and published my book First Comes Courage, I wanted to share my insights and have a voice on the power of hope, and kindness. I saw the great correlation between kindness and hope as leaders and humans.

In the words of the Dalai Lama XIV: ‘Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.’ I argue that this applies more importantly in leadership and for us to give hope. Kindness, shown through compassion and consideration of another person’s situation, is a leadership essential. It is the most prominent point on the courage compass in my book. The north point that all other points align to, and which should be the strongest leadership driver.

In the context of leadership, kindness empowers people to lead with positivity, purpose, hope and open-mindedness. It empowers leaders to embrace new ideas and encourages trust. If leaders show kindness they accelerate trust, and in turn create happier, more empowered employees, who will be inspired to deliver better results.

In times of uncertainty, organisations need hopeful leaders more than ever, leaders who are willing to lead hopeful projects, inspire others, and effectively unleash the achievement of a vision greater than ever imagined.

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Practical Tips for Leading with Hope

As a leader, it is essential to inspire and motivate your team. One of the most powerful ways to do this is by leading with hope. When people believe in a better future, they feel more energised and committed to achieving their goals. In this blog post, we will explore what it means to lead with hope and provide practical tips on how to do so effectively.

What Does It Mean to Lead with Hope?

Leading with hope means inspiring others to believe in a better future. It involves creating a vision of what could be and communicating that vision in a way that energises and motivates people. Hopeful leaders inspire others to act, even in the face of challenges and obstacles.

The Importance of Leading with Hope

Leading with hope is essential for several reasons. First, it helps to create a positive and optimistic culture within your team. When people are hopeful, they are more likely to work collaboratively and support each other. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of engagement and productivity.

Second, leading with hope helps to create a sense of purpose and meaning for your team. When people believe in a better future, they are more likely to feel that their work has meaning and is contributing to something larger than themselves.

Finally, leading with hope is essential for achieving long-term success. When your team believes in a better future, they are more likely to be resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks. This resilience and determination are critical for achieving long-term goals and overcoming obstacles along the way.

Now that we understand why leading with hope is essential, let’s explore some practical tips for how to do so effectively.

1. Create a Compelling Vision

The first step in leading with hope is to create a compelling vision of the future. This vision should be inspiring and ambitious, but also realistic and achievable. You should communicate this vision in a way that resonates with your team and helps them to see how their work contributes to this larger goal.

2. Communicate Effectively

Leading with hope requires effective communication. You should communicate your vision clearly and consistently, using language that is positive and optimistic. You should also be transparent about challenges and obstacles, but always focus on the opportunities and solutions. 

3. Celebrate Successes

As you work towards your vision, it is essential to celebrate successes along the way. This helps to build momentum and reinforces the belief that your team can achieve their goals. Celebrating successes also helps to create a positive and optimistic culture within your team.

4. Be Resilient

Leading with hope requires resilience. There will be challenges and setbacks along the way, but it is essential to remain optimistic and focused on the opportunities ahead. You should also be willing to adapt and change course as needed to achieve your goals.

5. Lead by Example

Finally, leading with hope requires leading by example. You should model the behaviour and attitudes that you want to see in your team. This includes being positive, optimistic, and resilient in the face of challenges.


Leading with hope is essential for inspiring and motivating your team. It involves creating a compelling vision of the future, communicating effectively, celebrating successes, being resilient, and leading by example. By following these practical tips, you can become a more hopeful and inspiring leader, and help your team to believe in a better future.

Thank you for reading with love and courage always, Sonia x

By Sonia McDonald – CEO Of LeadershipHQ And Outstanding Leadership Awards, Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO, Mum And Award Winning Author.

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Sonia is passionate about her voice. When Sonia speaks, everyone in the room feels like she is having a conversation with them as her audience will feel as if they are the only one in the room. She speaks from the heart. She is brave. She wants everyone to be brave. She is an impactful and motivational leadership expert and speaker that creates a life-changing experience. People call Sonia sassy, inspirational, real and a speaker who leaves a lasting impression. Her high-energy, authenticity and humour combined with actionable and practical advice, empowers her audience and provides them with great drive and confidence to take courageous actions and inspire great leadership in all aspects of their lives.

Sonia also is founder of LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc. and is also a renowned and award-winning author, having written several of her own books, Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It! and First Comes Courage as well as being a regular contributor in The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She was named as one of the Top 250 Influential Women in the world as well as Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs by Richtopia.

Through her leadership advisory and coaching work at LeadershipHQ, and founding the Outstanding Leadership Awards, Sonia is internationally recognised as an expert in leadership and culture, organisational development, neuroscience, kindness, and courage.

Sonia is also a full-time single parent and has a passion for women in business and teenage mental health. Sonia travels and speaks across Australia and Globe, and she is on a mission to building a world of great leaders and leadership.

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