For many people, Encouraging the Heart comes naturally. They like encouraging others, they see the benefit in doing so, and they love the feeling they get when someone appreciates the
the encouragement they lay out.
However, this is not true for everyone. For some people Encouraging the Heart is a real struggle.
I love how Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner introduce The Practice of Encourage the Heart in The Leadership Challenge, 7th Edition. On page 249, they share the story of Joan Nicolo and her struggles with Encouraging the Heart. Joan shared:
“After considerable soul-searching, she came up with some theories (as to why this was a struggle for her). She was afraid that others would think she was playing favorites if she praised one person. She also felt that praising and encouraging activities took too much time. It was just another item for her to add to an already burgeoning list of responsibilities. Recognition, she worried, was for those sensitive (i.e., touchy-feely, warm-and-fuzzy) types, not for serious and performance-oriented managers. And, maybe, providing recognition would unduly play into stereotypes of women, but not her male counterparts, as “nurturing.” However, the more she thought about it, the more she realized that her associates deserved to be recognized and it was high time for her to come to terms with her resistance to it. She was determined to give it a try.”
Joan goes on to share how Encouraging the Heart of those around her made a significant difference.
“At first, it wasn’t clear how these changes would affect productivity. Would they translate into something that would benefit the company? In short time, she saw that this new way of relating brought her group together as never before, fueling an esprit de corps that spurred everyone on to give their personal best whenever an extraordinary effort was required.”
Kouzes and Posner go on to share that “When participants in our workshops and seminars summarize the key leadership practices that make a difference in getting extraordinary things done,
recognizing people’s contributions is just about on every list. Recognition is even more essential in remote working environments because you can’t easily provide “on-the-spot” acknowledgment.
Recognition helps to maintain a positive working culture and is also an important driver of productivity. Employee surveys have consistently shown that “having a caring boss” is rated even higher in importance than salary. You show you care by showing your appreciation for individual excellence.”
Even if you now see the importance of Encouraging the Heart, if it is not something that comes naturally to you, what can you do to move more in that direction? It is all about intentionality!
Tom Pearce shared this story with me (and you can find it in The Leadership Challenge, 6th Edition!) that I just love. It is a Quick Tip of something you can implement today!
“I use three pennies to help me practice encouragement,” said Ravi, an Executive Financial Leader in a Leadership Challenge refresher program I was teaching last week. “When I get into work, I set three pennies on the left side of my computer. During the day, I look for opportunities to recognize, thank, and encourage good work that people are doing around me.”
He explained, “After I encourage someone, I move a penny from the left side of my computer to the right side. It keeps me mindful of the fact that we live in an encouragement-starved world – I am just trying to do my small part to fix that – at least with my work team.” A fellow classmate asked, “What do you do when you are not at your desk?” Ravi replied, “I put the pennies in my left pocket and move them to my right pocket as I encourage people during the day. If I get to the end of the day with pennies in my left pocket, I call my kids and friends on the way home and offer them some encouragement.”
The class agreed that this sounded simple and doable, and they liked the fact that the pennies were a tangible reminder of the need to be a positive force in the world for others around us.
Have a great Quick Tip to share on Encouraging the Heart? Let me know, I’d love to share it! How can iLead be of further service? Let us know here.