“Yes, I know this year she volunteered 20 hours per week in her community, saved 15 puppies from drowning, received stellar feedback from 20 clients, recruited 5 extraordinary staff, trained our whole team increasing productivity by 20% and won a Nobel prize…but that’s the high standard we would expect from all our employees. Let’s give her a 3 out of 5.”
I strive to be an encouraging leader that helps people to achieve their goals. Especially if they have shown themselves to have potential, work well with others and have a good attitude.
If someone showing this potential wants to try for a promotion because they think they can do the job, who am I to stand in their way as their manager?
Unfortunately, there are leaders that show the opposite behaviour. They talk people down, try to “manage their expectations” and prevent them from taking that next step.
Michael Jordan famously said that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Being an encouraging leader is about convincing your team members to take that shot.
How to Be An Encouraging Leader
Start Letting Go Of Your Insecurities
Insecurity is a monster hiding within all of us. Those who are fighting this monster will be fearful of letting their team members get closer to their level.
We see this when younger team members show high potential. An older manager likes to compare the situation to “when I was their age”. They use their own previous experience as an excuse to push somebody down.
Being an encouraging leader means not being threatened by the achievement and potential of your team. It means getting out of the way.
Stop Fearing Losing Your Great Team Members
What happens if your team member is promoted and leaves your team?
Will you struggle to find someone as good as them? It can be daunting when you realise that you’d have a big gap to fill in your team should your staff be promoted or go to another organisation.
Encouraging leadership happens when we stop standing in the way of aspirations.
It is fairly short-sighted to try to hold someone back because it will affect your own team’s performance. Continuing to do so will only demotivate your team members until they choose to leave.
You’ll be in the same situation as if you had helped them achieve their goals, except your reputation might not be as positive.
The Practical Part of Being An Encouraging Leader
OK, I get it – we live in reality. There isn’t enough money going around to give everyone more money.
Nevertheless, the key here is transparency and honesty. Admittedly, you can’t promote everyone, but if you choose not to promote certain people, you should have a good reason which should be communicated to the people that miss out.
If it turns out that there are no opportunities available for your team members, it is your responsibility as a leader to communicate that to your team so they are aware of the situation.
You are dealing with people here. Don’t string disgruntled people along with false promises and misleading information.
You Have a Choice to Make
I like to think of it this way – I have two options. I can stand in the way of my team members for no good reason, resisting their efforts to achieve greater things. Or, I can support them and attempt to help get them to where they want to go.
If I choose to stand in their way, they will likely find an opportunity somewhere else. If I choose to encourage them, then they will feel good that somebody had faith in them, whether they succeeded or not.
I choose to be an encouraging leader who tries to help my team and put my personal insecurities aside. What do you choose to be?
How do you encourage your team members? What are the challenges you’ve faced? Tell me your stories in the comments below!
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