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“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”

Tom Bodett

The business world is just now discovering the importance of hope in the workplace.


All organizations feed on emotions.  Love, fear, and humor have all been recognized as playing an essential role in the proper functioning of the organization.  On the other hand, hope has been seen as part of the function of project teams (“I hope I can meet that deadline”), but it has never been seriously considered as a needed team emotion.

Until now.

Hope in Organizations

Although hope sounds like a purely positive emotion on the surface, research has found that hope plays a more complex role in organizations as they tackle challenging goals.  At the organizational level, hope is made up of three parts:

  1. Organizational members must have a shared vision for a hopeful future.  They must believe it is possible to move beyond their current circumstances and achieve better outcomes.
  2. Organizational members must believe they know how to reach their goals via methods and practices they deem appropriate.
  3. The organization must embody a shared sense of motivation toward its goals.  Then, when times get tough, hopeful organizations believe they have what it takes to weather the storm.

How to Cultivate Hope

It is a tricky balance between meeting the demands of today’s competitive business climate and helping employees prepare for the future.  Business leaders and entrepreneurs need to provide a realistic sense of future possibilities but not be overly optimistic nor give off vibes of impending doom.

There are some concrete actions to demonstrate hope that you can take as a leader.  Remember, hope is more likely to flourish with transparency and truth rather than secrecy.

  1. Be a sounding board to help your employees work through their uncertainty and be open to new possibilities.
  2. Encourage employees to set goals for themselves and involve them in organizational goal setting.
  3. Help employees identify pathways to achieving those goals, empowering employees to make decisions accordingly.
  4. Demonstrate confidence in employees and their abilities to overcome challenges.
  5. Prepare employees to manage contingencies and plan for multiple possible scenarios.

The Bible

The best news is that the business world is finally learning a fact we Christians have always known.

Biblical hope has as its foundation faith in God.

The word hope in English often conveys doubt, for example, “I hope it will not rain tomorrow.” In addition, the word hope is often followed by the word so.  This is the answer that some may give when asked if they think that they will go to heaven when they die.  They say, “I hope so.”

However, that is not the meaning of the words translated as “hope” in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word batah, which is often translated into hope, has the meaning of confidence, security, and being without care; therefore, the concept of doubt is not part of this word, as can be seen in Hebrews 11:1.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Biblical hope is a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises to us.  In fact, it is also a sense of trust in Jesus and His saving work.  We need hope to get a new perspective on our lives and can incorporate it by engaging with our faith.

If we would place our trust in the hope that Christ gives in all aspects of our lives, including our businesses, then hope would be the first emotion we would employ in our organizations, not the last.

Business leaders need to convey hope to their teams. 

And teams will benefit from this hope because it is a concrete expectation of your leadership.  To learn how to convey hope, leaders need to lean on God for His eternal guidance, which He is eagerly willing to supply.