January 20, 2021

Leading in Turbulent Times | Step 5 of 5: Energize Exceedingly

The best leaders offer emotional support and provide encouragement to those around them, especially during difficult times. These are the precise characteristics you’ll need to display with your team if you expect your charity to survive a crisis and ultimately thrive later on.

Verbal affirmation is essential to establishing secure emotional bonds with your team, directors, and supporters. In turn, these bonds deliver security, stability, trust, and support — the precise things people need to thrive in difficult times.

Research suggests that verbally affirming team members also promotes engagement, encourages forgiveness, and even boosts mood.

But what exactly is it that we need to be affirming, and how should we go about it?

Both good questions.

We believe there are four sentiments worth reinforcing to ensure your people feel valued, cared for, and appreciated during a demanding time. And if done right, they will indeed energize.

Let’s take a quick look at each.

Affirmation 1: Tomorrow will be better than today.

This affirmation fuels both hope and optimism, both of which are force-multipliers. Publicly promoting the notion that better days are just around the corner is one of a leader’s most durable, time-tested, and encouraging messages and is especially important during difficult times.

When people genuinely believe their best days are still ahead, they’re acknowledging in a very real way that hard times and challenging circumstances are just temporary afflictions, which will soon give way to better things. This is a powerful belief indeed.

Not only do hope-filled optimists have healthier outlooks and tend to live longer than their more pessimistic counterparts, they’re less susceptible to the negative effects of illness, fatigue, and depression. These are all extremely valuable benefits when you’re looking to lead your team through a storm.

Affirmation 2: The bonds we have with one another will get us through this.

Because we have an innate desire to be part of a meaningful, like-minded community, it’s no surprise that people will go to great lengths to do what it takes to become part of one.

And so it is with your nonprofits in that you have team members, directors, ambassadors, donors, and volunteers who have demonstrated their commitment to your cause.

Once successfully assimilated into a group, people experience very real benefits: reduced stress, greater happiness, greater longevity, less illness, a more profound sense of purpose, and an increased sense of safety.

As a leader, having a firm grasp on the idea that the remarkable power found in common bonds can have an uncommon impact on teams and organizations will go a long way toward getting your team through turbulent times.

Affirmation 3: Even in hard times, there are abundant blessings all around us.

This message is essential because, according to Stanford University’s Dr. Emma Sappala, research suggests our personal perspective is biased toward the negative and that, for our minds, bad is much stronger than good. This means we’re more likely to pay attention to and recall negative situations than to remember positive ones.

Dr. Sappala goes on to remind us that “if we have a roof above our head, a couple of meals a day, are educated enough to read this article, and have access to a computer and the internet, we have received more opportunities, material goods, and education than the majority of the world’s population.”

Here’s the bottom line: Sometimes all it takes is just a few words from you as a leader to remind people that, even in the midst of hard times, we still have remarkable blessings all around us. It’s through this simple affirmation that moods are boosted, happiness is generated, and optimism increases.

Affirmation 4: The benefits of overcoming hard times will be significant.

If we believe there are significant benefits in overcoming hard times, we’ll experience what researchers refer to as “post-traumatic growth.”

According to noted expert Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, this is also known as the Phoenix Phenomenon, suggesting that a new life arises from the remains of the old way of being.

Interestingly, Mirgain’s research has found that up to 70% of people experience positive psychological growth from difficult times, including a deeper sense of self and purpose; a greater appreciation for life and loved ones; and an increased capacity for altruism, empathy, and the desire to act for the greater good.

This simple message truly can be a game-changer for people who are trying to get through a difficult situation.

Key Affirmations

  • Tomorrow will be better than today.
  • The bonds we have with one another will get us through this.
  • Even in hard times, there are abundant blessings all around us.
  • The benefits of overcoming hard times will be significant.