Human Capital Management, Total Well-Being

Have You Encouraged The Heart Today?

/ February 26, 2021 February 26, 2021

Kouzes and Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, teach us that there are 5 practices to exemplary leadership. Great leaders will:

  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Model the Way
  • Challenge the Process
  • Enable Others to Act &
  • Encourage the Heart

The purpose of this post is to focus on the fifth practice, Encouraging the Heart, which is about the principles and practices that support the basic human need to be appreciated for who we are and what we do. I often feel that this practice is the most overlooked of the 5 by many employers, due to it’s “softness.”

As Kouzes and Posner sum up nicely, “Perhaps you’re not the cheerleader type, and you’re turned off by the idea of making too much of what people are getting paid to do; you feel that they shouldn’t be expecting any special treatment. Even if there is some truth to this, the fact remains that we are social animals and most of us respond well when we are acknowledged for our efforts.”

At the end of the day, we have minds and hearts, both of which are meant to be used at work. To use our minds and not our hearts is to deny ourselves greater success. 

So, what does encouraging the heart look like in practice? Here are just some examples:

  • Encouraging the heart is setting clear standards. It’s taking the time to clarify the values that are important for you and your team to live by.
  • Encouraging the heart is expecting the best. It’s assigning a member of your team to a challenging project and letting them know that you’ve assigned them to it because you BELIEVE in them– you believe that they have the capacity to excel at it. You’ve made a commitment to supply them with the coaching, training, and resources they need to be successful.
  • Encouraging the heart is paying attention. It’s leaving your desk for 10 minutes every day, solely for the purpose of learning more about each of your team members, their aspirations, their needs, etc.
  • Encouraging the heart is personalizing recognition. It’s thinking about what you can do to make your next act of recognition special and unique for the person you’re recognizing.
  • Encouraging the heart is telling a story. It’s about never passing up on an opportunity to publicly relate true stories about how people in your organization have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Encouraging the heart is about celebrating together. It’s about offering social support for a job well done while also honoring someone for upholding a cherished standard.
  • Finally, encouraging the heart is about setting an example. It’s about personally getting involved in as many recognition events and celebrations as possible. It’s about regularly living out your values.

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