Some of you would be familiar with Kouzes & Posner’s “Leadership Challenge.” If you aren’t, do look it up. They have concluded from several years of research, still ongoing, that there are five leadership practices common to most, if not all, people. One of those practices is called “Encourage the heart.” At first glance, you might think that this has only got to do with the mushy, feel-good-with-that-faraway-glitter-in-your-eyes sort of thing, but it is actually much more than that! Make no mistake, giving people goosebumps in appropriate ways is also highly essential, and we need to recognize that there is more to encouraging the heart than just that.
I am talking about leaders who lead well. Who know that the devil is in the details and defeat him there anyway. Who are diligent and committed enough to their people to labour long and hard in order to ensure that things are not fair for everyone, but equitable and just. Who spend time with their people in such a way that their people are certain that they are known, and that you as their leader will deploy them according to their strengths so that they will succeed at whatever they have been tasked to accomplish. Who mean what they say and will take action to remove toxic waste and cancerous co-workers before they become a threat to the rest. Who in the same breath will do everything to give those same toxic co-workers another chance to change course and rise up to what everyone needs and expects. Who will reward outstanding performances and celebrate small victories in timely and meaningful ways. Who, at the same time, will not hesitate to royally chew out anyone who strays into the dark side of behaviour.
Know such a leader at your workplace? Are you willing to be one of those who truly encourage the heart?