Leadership Behavior - Encourage the Heart

Encouraging the Heart is a leadership behavior that has benefits on both personal and organizational levels. It builds positive working relationships which increases productivity. On a personal level, feeling good about one's work and accomplishments feed engagement which in turn feeds productivity and the bottom line.

Why Encouraging the Heart Works

Positive emotion has numerous benefits. In the work environment, it perpetuates itself and multiplies enthusiasm and commitment. When people want to work, the leader's job is easier and more is accomplished.

As positive emotions permeate the organization, they have a positive impact on the health of employees by reducing stress levels. Reduced stress leads to reduced illness and reduces healthcare costs. This leadership behavior has a bottom line impact on both productivity and reduced costs.

Leadership Tips

Modeling the Way includes emotional modeling. A leader who is positive and encouraging models those for others to follow. Focus your language on what will work rather than what won't work. For example, "We will succeed" focuses people in the right direction while "We will not fail" focuses them on fear of failure. The human brain tends to ignore the word "not" therefore people hear "We will fail."

Celebrate small wins. Celebrating small wins allows people to recognize progress which encourages people to keep going. A recent Harvard Business Review article by Amibile and Kramer noted that 76% of days people label "good days" are characterized by the description "meaningful progress."

The act of celebrating, even something as small as a high five or a fist pump, releases brain chemicals that give people, energy, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and alertness. Those are all great in the workplace. More good news is that those emotions carry into the next workday. Celebrate early and often to Encourage the Heart.

Limits to Encouraging the Heart

It is the leader's responsibility to choose a responsible direction in which to encourage the heart and to carry through on that direction. The Heart should be encouraged in the direction of the vision.

Lacking a clear vision, leaders may encourage the heart but do so chasing a current fad or copying another organization. We've all seen leaders who frequently change directions and yet expect people to be consistently enthused about each new direction. And we've all seen followers start yawning over the flavor of the month. People will enlist their enthusiasm only so many times before they loose heart.

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