It's a time of year with many reasons to celebrate and numerous opportunities to Encourage the Heart of special people in your life. Graduates and students are continuing their lifelong leadership and learning journeys - journeys filled with lessons that extend beyond classroom walls. Today's graduates are positioned to lead us into the next chapter, the next stop on our neverending quest for exemplary leadership.
The practice of Encouraging the Heart is aligned with two commitments:
- recognizing contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence
- celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community
Sounds easy, doesn't it? Yet why don't we do it more often?
Of all The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, Encourage the Heart is a practice important enough to warrant its own book, workshop and training materials, and part of our The Challenge Continues collection. And for good reasons.
First is practicality. There are many resources and publications on motivating and recognizing others, but we couldn't find enough resources on Encouraging the Heart to share with our students and practicing managers attending our classes and workshops.
The second reason is principle. Some bosses might say simply paying their employees is enough. Managers may wonder why they need to go beyond routine pats on the back. Even using the word "heart" could turn off some supervisors who may think business is not about the warm-and-fuzzy stuff. Our research, and that of many others, shows that if you're after profits, you'd better pay attention to encouraging the hearts of your people.
Third, we were curious. Have you ever heard someone say, "You know, you really could stop motivating me so much." Zig Ziglar once said, "Motivation is like bathing. That's why it's recommended daily." Encouraging the heart is a leadership practice and behavior with multiple benefits that ripple beyond a single act of kindness.
Encouraging the Heart matters. People matter. Our research and work with leaders around the globe shows that of all The Five Practices - Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart - Encourage the Heart has more variability in application than most of the other practices. For some leaders, Encouraging the Heart comes naturally. For others, the behaviors related to this practice are harder to execute.
Our research on the importance of encouraging the heart is backed up by other researchers who say that about one-third of North American workers say they never are recognized for a job well done. Slightly more (44 percent) report they receive little recognition for a job well done. Only 50 percent of managers say they give recognition for high performance.
Encourage the Heart is a core leadership skill. When striving to get extraordinary things done -- raise quality, recover from disaster, start up a new business, or make dramatic change of any kind -- leaders must make sure that people experience in their hearts that what they do matters.
For the next week, conduct a self-audit of your leadership actions related to Encouraging the Heart. Let's learn from each other: Share comments with a few ways you've seen, heard, or experienced the practice of Encourage the Heart.