I've never heard anyone say, "Man, I wish that guy/girl would stop encouraging me. I can't take them making me feel better about myself."
Photo credit to MelvinSchlubman
I have been with leaders who are natural affirmers. In their presence you feel good about yourself and they make your work feel valuable. I have also been around leaders who don't encourage. Working for these people make you wonder if you're a valuable team member. Work becomes painful, days feel like weeks, and small tasks feel like never ending chores.
So how are you as an encourager? If you struggle with it let me help you with five ways to be encouraging.
1. Write a personal note - Working for a non-profit has taught me the value of writing a thank you note as an encouragement. Often, I write a notes to a donor or volunteer. I don't write, "Thanks for your money," or "Thanks for the time." Instead, I encourage them by saying, "Thanks for being a blessing to us through using your gifts and being generous." That's what we want as leaders, team members who know how to be generous with their gifts so I want to encourage them exercising those gifts.
2. Team encouragement - This a fun way to change the culture of the team. Begin every meeting with this question to your team, "Who did you catch doing things right this week?" This does a couple of things for our team: 1. People feel affirmed by their peers, and 2, This re-casts the vision of what we are trying to accomplish.
3. The moment - I strongly believe leaders should focus on catching people doing things right more than they try to catch people doing things wrong. When you practice this as a leader you begin to recognize "The Moment." As soon as you see "right" you tell that person. If you haven't been practicing this it might catch your team by surprise the first couple of times but shortly your team will fall in love with this type of encouragement.
4. The rooftop - Social media provides a leader with the opportunity to scream "I see you" from the rooftop of their community. When a team member is killing it the leader can go online and praise that team member in front of 100 to 100,000 people depending on that leaders platform. Some people will scoff at this but I still haven't seen a person reject this from of encouragement.
5. Go nuts - Occasionally you just have to go nuts when a team member conquers a big challenge. People get stuck. You and I get stuck. When we see someone else get past being stuck we should celebrate it the way we would want to be celebrated. Scream your excitement! Give the big gift! Stop everyone, everywhere and announce the victory for this team member. If you do this, people's loyalty will be over the top.
I have to remind myself that I encourage because it's good for people's heart and not because it's good for the mission. Does the mission or vision benefit from encouraging people? Well sure. But the goal is to create a culture of encouraged people going for even bigger things because they know they have what it takes to make it happen.
What goes on inside you when you are encouraged? How have you been encouraged well? Please leave a comment below!