Last month I encouraged you to recall some of the people who spoke into your life to affirm you and let you know that they believed in you, that you were important, and had potential. I hope you did that and reflected on the impact those people and their words of encouragement had in helping you become the person you are today.
Flipping the Coin
This month I want to flip the coin and ask you to consider how you can give that type of encouragement to others. For at least a third of the population, that typically sounds touchy-feely because it’s not their natural behavior. For others, it’s more natural, but not always done intentionally or often enough. The coaching here is mainly focused on the more results-focused group, but it will be helpful to all.
Here’s a good way to practice this concept and make it a reality—learn to “act your way into a new way of feeling.” As you begin to adapt and use this powerful habit, it may feel unnatural, and a bit put-on. Actually, some of the great leaders I’ve coached stood in front of the mirror and practiced smiling and rehearsed how they would encourage a follower, but over time it became more natural.
“When you learn to encourage your people, the payoff will be huge. Here’s why—we are humans, and all humans want to feel accepted, valued, and worthy.” [Tweet This]
Watch my 5-minute coaching clip on this topic, and then continue with the blog below –
Going back to logic, here is some evidence that proves this point.
The Future of Work
A recent article from Gallup brings great analytics to what we know but often in the heat of the daily battle just ignore or assume away. We all need to pause and reflect on this statement from their headline:
“The future of work starts with showing employees that they are valued.”
Gallup then noted in their article linked below:
“A culture of recognition, at its most basic level, is one in which gratitude, praise and appreciation are freely given and regularly received in an authentic and equitable way throughout the organization.” [Tweet This]
Your reflection on those people from your past that encouraged you is a great example of why this is important. Encouragement brings higher positive energy and higher performance.
Feelings Affect Results
Unfortunately, as Leading with Honor coaches and trains leaders and teams, we learn that recognition of employees is not a major priority (and Gallup’s research also reveals this point). That’s not a surprise when you consider there is so much emphasis on results—specific, measurable goals. Think of the dashboards and data-driven reports—and even the performance reports.
In most leader/manager performance evaluations, there is not much attention given to measuring a leader’s connection with the hearts of their people. But let’s rationally consider the human factor. We are not just electrons nor completely electronic like your computer or phone. Add in the protons and neutrons and the clearly obvious human need for love, and you can see logically why we need encouragement.
We have “hearts” that carry our feelings and emotions, and we are driven positively and negatively by our feelings. Feelings directly correlate to results and performance.
Here are four major points from Gallup’s research. Encouragement:
- generates a more positive outlook. Encouragement frees others to think and feel positively.
- reduces burnout. Positive energy overcomes the negatives of burnout.
- reduces stress, worry and sadness.
- gives a feeling of belonging. Remember we are humans and humans have a deep emotional need to belong and be accepted.
So how do you give encouragement? One of the simplest and best ways is to work with the Letter A:
- Acknowledge their presence. Do this by being Available, Accessible, and Approachable—and smile.
- Accept them for who they are. Look at them with a positive perspective and focus on what they bring to the table—and smile.
- Affirm them with something specific about their performance –and smile.
- Appreciate them—show them you value them. Let them know you believe in them and that they are bringing value to your team—and smile.
Encouragement and connecting with people’s hearts is the easiest go-to strategy for getting the results that you want from your people. As mentioned earlier, helping leaders learn to adapt is a big part of what I have been doing as a leadership coach and trainer for more than 25 years (as well as helping the other third of the population that are more feelings-oriented learn to be tougher).
Adapting takes courage, and you must believe in yourself, accept it as the right thing that you need to do. So, even when it feels uncomfortable, don’t hold back. Develop a plan, and then go do it.
In my book, Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Talents and Managing Differences, I shared a story of a highly talented, results-focused, corporate president that I coached who learned to encourage and connect with the hearts of others. He began to adapt and give encouragement to his team and his family and that was a gift that kept on giving. He is now known as one of the top CEOs in Atlanta GA.[ii]
Moving forward, I “urge” you to “encourage” others. You will see that it’s the gift that keeps on giving and the return on your investment will be life-changing for them and you.
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[ii] You can read this story in Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences (Chapter 2)