During my doctoral studies, I frequented several ER rooms before it was discovered I had a heart condition.
On one of those occasions, my doctoral advisor, Dr. Clifford McClain, found out.
“I’m on my way,” he texted.
Once there, he said, “I didn’t want my favorite doctoral student to be alone.”
“But I’m your only doctoral student,” I smiled.
“Well, yeah, anyway, I just didn’t want you to be alone.”
Hope-based leaders are servant leaders who do these kinds of things.
They are also known as spirit-of-the law ones’.
In McClain’s class, when a student had an idea that was off topic, he would say, “Okay, okay, that’s good thinking. Keep at it.” Whereas a letter-of-the law or fear-based professor would say, “What the H-E double hockey sticks was that?”
Dr. Jonathan Herman, a long island OB-GYN, is, like McClain, a spirit-of-the-law leader. In fact, one thing he taught me is to use “we.” For example, when a patient visits his practice and is having a difficult time, after having tested positive for a hereditary breast and ovarian cancer mutation (HBOC), he would say, “We are going to get through this” as though he tested positive for a mutation himself. On the other hand, a letter-of-the-law or fear-based practitioner would say, “First, you’ll need to have your breasts cut off, then your ovaries cut out” (I’m not making this stuff up. I’ve spoken around the nation on HBOC since 2008, been in and out of a myriad of doctors offices, and, unfortunately, have heard these horror story comments).
One more spirit-of-the-law leader is Darrin Shamo, former director of direct and online marketing at Zappos. Shamo told me about a time when Zappos was moving to the old city county building in Las Vegas, while it was being renovated for them to eventually move into. At this time, some of his staff was being housed in a nearby rental office. But on the way walking to and from work, from an outdoor parking deck, his employees were being harassed by people on the street. So, Shamo, wanting to ensure his folks were meeting Abraham Maslow’s second rung of “safety”, from his hierarchy of needs, was able to provide underground parking and lunch delivered to them on-site.
Who are these people?
You know some of them.
In fact, you could be one of them.
All I know is that hope-based communication creates hope-based leaders who create hope-based cultures.
Your name is safe with them.
They’re going to listen.
Give you the benefit of the doubt.
Assume the best.
Believe in, support and empower you.
The truth is, becoming a spirit-of-the-law leader is possible.
But first you gotta get rid of those letter-of-the-law idiosyncracies. Here are just some you might recognize:
- Throwing people under the boss
- Setting people up for failure
- Disloyal to the absent and present
- Taking credit
- My way or the highway attitude
- Having favorites
- Seeing the glass half-empty
I don’t believe McClain, Herman or Shamo were ever letter-of-the-law or fear-based leaders.
But even if they were, then there is certainly hope for you and I.
To become a spirit-of-the-law or hope-based leader.
Where people want to be around you.
Or work for you.
Where people have fun in your culture.
Because they know their name is safe with you.
And they can’t wait to get into work (yup, there are actually cultures like this).
And you care so much about your people that they will bust through a brick wall for you.
Because you believe in, support and empower them.
And care and are present.
Even in an ER, or a doctor’s office or in any office.
Whatever it takes.
And while you do, remember everyone’s your favorite, to use “we” and if you can swing it, provide underground parking and lunch.
ACTE. (2017). Region V. Retrieved from https://www.acteonline.org/regionv/#.WLZf2X88cRY
[E-Commerce Brasil]. (2013, September 12). Forum e-commerce Brasil. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZTKL7WnDLY