Hope and Ultimatums, pages 280-287
Updated: Apr 28
Part Two: Leadership Tactics, 4. Communication H. Hope, I. Ultimatums (pages 280-287)
“Hope is not a course of action.” While hope is not useful in planning or execution, it still plays an important part in the success of the team. Hope plays a vital part in both winning and leading. “It must be present in the hearts and minds of the people executing the mission.” As the leader, it is your responsibility to infuse hope into your team by explaining the worth of the mission and that victory is obtainable. If needed, create short-term achievable victories to build/sustain hope. Because without hope, there will be defeat.
I remember former New York Governor, Rudy Guiliani, stating “hope is not a strategy” when speaking during the 2008 Republican National convention. While he was not the first to state that, I did store that statement in my memory and have often used it in my various leadership roles. My use of it is typically in response to someone when I hear them say “I hope to…”. I would immediately reply with “but hope is not a strategy, so what is your strategy? It’s a worthwhile tool in changing the conversation from vague to succinct.
Ultimatums are not good leadership tools. They should be avoided at all costs because they are too restrictive. They do not allow for any maneuverability because you never make an ultimatum that you will not keep. There are three different types of ultimatums.
1. Making an ultimatum as the boss
If you feel your only course of action is to give an ultimatum, the first thing to consider is your leadership or lack thereof. Effective leadership rarely utilizes ultimatums. If you have gotten to the point where you think of using one, somewhere along the way you failed as the leader. However, in the rare times when you must give an ultimatum, it must be delivered upon. There is no going back. Also, “make it explicit, not in the requirements of what needs to be done but also in the consequences of exactly what will happen if the ultimatum is not met.”
2. Making an ultimatum as a subordinate
This type of situation typically revolves around the subordinate threatening to quit if they don’t get a raise/promotion. This type of powerplay is ineffective and has lasting ill effects as in the boss will either look to replace the person or even if there is a raise/promotion the boss will undoubtedly think less of the person. Instead, have genuine conversations with the boss explaining the reasons behind your thoughts. However, if you feel an ultimatum is necessary, remember, there is no going back.
3. Dealing with an ultimatum place on you
Telling the truth is a valuable tool if this occurs to you. Be truthful to yourself in determining your effort. Be truthful with your teammates in telling them an ultimatum has been placed on you. Lastly, be truthful with the boss in explaining what you will need to accomplish the mission.
I do not use ultimatums as a leader. I learned that the hard way as a father. I tried to impose them on my daughters. Their behaviors didn’t change and I couldn’t follow through on the consequences. Using an ultimatum is a loose-loose proposition. Avoid them at all costs!