Leaders Encourage the Heart

Another practice of leaders described in The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner is to “Encourage the Heart.”

Are you an encourager? According to the authors, the most effective leaders do a great job of building teams by encouraging teammates. They do so by recognizing the specific contributions that a teammate brings to the organization.

General encouragement is good. Saying “good job” and “thank you” is a good step. But, the better step is being specific about the results noticed:

“You went the extra mile for the customer by staying late, thanks.”

“Thanks for pointing out that frayed conduit. If you hadn’t caught that it could have caused a fire.”

“You are always here on time. We can count on you.”

“I’ve noticed that you have steadily added to your daily production, way to go.”

“The way you pace yourself on this nailing machine is unique. It sets you apart.”

Another way to encourage the heart is to celebrate. Celebrate successes big and small. Simple things like acknowledging a birthday or an anniversary. Specific things like organizing an after-work party to celebrate a hard week. Celebrating personal bests or milestones achieved. All of those acts matter.

Yesterday we talked about “Model the Way” and today it is “Encourage the Heart.” Notice that neither of those leadership practices depends on a position of authority or a formal title to be put to work. You can do them anytime. You just have to decide to do so.

That’s leading where you stand.