Leadership in a word: Encouragement
Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
A WORD ABOUT ENCOURAGEMENT
In a Gallup article entitled “Seven Things Great Employers Do (That Others Don’t),” the author’s introduction speaks to the rise in the number of employees who are actively disengaged in their work, and identifies companies who are bucking the trend.
One of the ways in which companies are doing it is by ensuring that the basic encouragement requirements are being met before expecting an inspiring mission to matter. They state:
“When employees know what is expected of them, have what they need to do their jobs, are good fits for their roles, and feel their managers have their backs, they will commit to almost anything the company is trying to accomplish. Conversely, if these basic needs are not met, even the most exalted mission may not engage them. People simply don’t connect with proclamations of mission or values -- no matter how inspiring these might sound in the head office.”
Is it possible in our leadership circles that we have exalted our mission and vision statements to such a high level that those tasked with fulfilling them can’t do so because the basic need of encouragement has not been met?
We’ve all come to know in some small way what encouragement looks like. It’s a kind word, a slap on the back, being recognized and thanked for a job well done. These things are important and they matter. But why? Here are a few reasons.
ENCOURAGEMENT MATTERS BECAUSE YOUR PEOPLE MATTER
As the authors of the article stated, “People simply don’t connect with proclamations of mission statements or values.” Simply put - people connect people. And if you want your people to be connected to your mission or vision you must first connect with the ones who will bring it to life.
John Maxwell was right when he said, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.” If you fail to do this, what else really matters?
ENCOURAGEMENT MATTERS BECAUSE IT FOCUSES ON THE RELATIONSHIP
There is a difference between praise and encouragement.
“Encouragement can be given at any time, to anyone, in any situation. It is an observation, an acknowledgment, a statement that focuses on effort, etc.,” says educational consultant Vicki Hoefle.
It’s a leadership principle that acknowledges the hard work of your people and speaks to the challenges that your team faces, and is an acknowledgment that you see, recognize, and appreciate it.
When you focus on encouragement, you are building the most important thing in the life of your organization - relationship.
ENCOURAGEMENT MATTERS BECAUSE RESULTS MATTER
When your people know that you have their backs, and they’ve been empowered and equipped to do their jobs, they will come through for you. As a leader, you must back up your words of encouragement with action.
Make no mistake, your people need to hear your words of encouragement. They appreciate it more than you realize. But the mission and vision mean little to them or you if it doesn’t come to life. And at the end of the day, the results of your business or organization matter.
“Don’t let the muggles get you down.” - J.K. Rowling
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” - Multiple attributions
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” - I Thessalonians 5:11
“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.” - Zig Ziglar
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” - C.S. Lewis
A FINAL WORD
In a world filled with much negativity, strive to be a leader that is an encourager. See the best. Believe the best. Give your best. Be a model of what true encouragement is all about. Raise the bar and raise the people around you.
©2018 Doug Dickerson