The answer is found in practicing encouragement — encouraging the heart. That’s the wisdom of Kouzes and Posner, and this book sets forth a plan to do exactly that.
Encouraging the Heart is ultimately about keeping hope alive. Leaders keep hope alive when they set high standards and genuinely express optimism about an individual’s capacity to achieve them. They keep hope alive when they give feedback and publicly recognize a job well done. They keep hope alive when they give their constituents the internal support that all human beings need to feel that they and their work are important and have meaning. They keep hope alive when they train and coach people to exceed their current capacities. Most importantly, leaders keep hope alive when they set an example.
The seven essentials of encouraging:
- Set clear standards – People have to know exactly what is expected of them in order to fulfill their assignments.
- Expect the best – “Expect the worst” and a leader will likely get the worst. “Expect the best” and a leader will get something much closer to a person’s best. Thus, practice the “set-up-to-succeed” environment, not the “set-up-to-fail” environment.
- Pay attention – A leader has to pay attention. Listen and observe in order to know how to successfully encourage each individual employee.
- Personalize recognition – Do not give everyone the same recognitions/rewards. This can be very counterproductive. By choosing personalized rewards, the leader indicates that he/she knows each employee as an individual. This is powerfully encouraging.
- Tell the story – The leader tells lots of stories of success as part of the overarching story of the company or organization, which is told and retold over and over again. This practice is morale building, culture building, and very encouraging!
- Celebrate together – The leader makes sure there are plenty of fun times of celebration, shared by all, after noteworthy milestones or accomplishments.
- Set the example – The leader has to do what the folks are expected to do. “Follow the leader” is in fact what happens. So, the leader makes sure that he/she is setting an example and providing a model to follow.
Encouraging the Heart should be, in my opinion, the first book every leader should read because leaders are leading people, and people need great and continual encouragement to get closer to their “best”.
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis