The ability to encourage others is an essential skill for any leader.
The desire to encourage others is an essential disposition of the heart for any leader.
In fact, if encouragement is not a natural part of your leadership, you may unintentionally push people away from you rather than draw them to you.
I wrote a post that gives an overview of the significance of encouragement, raises the bar of what encouragement means and describes the traits of a leader who is an encourager. I recommend you read it, and it's available to you here.
Here's a brief excerpt from that post:
Encouragement is not a soft expression from a weak leader. Good leaders, who are strong leaders, understand that encouragement is a core element to sustained influence. Essentially, sincere encouragement comes from a deep love for and belief in people, and a desire to see them experience life in a more fulfilling way.
In this post, I want to answer a question that comes up frequently, which is:
"What are the practical, everyday ways that a leader encourages people?"
First, I want to make sure you can offer authentic encouragement that will find its way into people's hearts.
There are two skills you must learn to genuinely encourage others:
- The ability to connect at a heart level. When you choose authenticity over self-protection, you open the doors to genuine connection.
Good leaders take responsibility to make that personal connection with each person they meet.
- The ability to appreciate people the way they are. Accepting and appreciating people the way they are can feel like tension for leaders because we want to help them grow, improve and realize their potential.
So we challenge them because we care. But we must be careful not to push so much that our intentions are misunderstood. We must love, accept and appreciate people the way they are to help them grow into the person they can become.
Here are seven practical and everyday ways to encourage people:
- Communicate hope. Life is wonderful, but it can be difficult. The parts of life that are difficult in nature are heavy and weigh people down. When you encourage someone, you lift them up.
As a leader, you communicate hope by speaking with a positive bias about the present and future. This isn't hype; it's genuine hope because you believe the best.
We all know that parts of life are tough, and being real is essential, but you don't have to get stuck and dwell there. That doesn't help. Finding solutions and communicating a better way is uplifting!
- Make the conversation about them. When you listen to someone, you give them a great gift because you let them know you value them as a person.
It's always good to be interesting and bring energy to the conversation, but it's even better to make the conversation about the other person. One of the best ways to do that is to ask questions.
Questions are another way to communicate value because it lets the person know you care about them.
People are fascinating, and I love their stories. If you dig just a little, you can discover really interesting things about them and often learn something at the same time.
When you genuinely enjoy the process, they feel it and are very encouraged.
- Express belief. Few things in life encourage me more than when someone I trust and respect believes in me and lets me know. I imagine the same is true for you too.
When you speak words of belief to someone about who they are and what they can do, you increase their sense of personal value and confidence.
It's often true that you first believe in someone before they believe in themselves. Believing in them is a statement of faith from your heart to theirs.
When you express belief in someone, you deposit your personal faith, confidence and love into their life. All of this is incredibly encouraging.
- Don't overlook the "little" things. When you give a sincere compliment, for example, about how someone looks or what they are wearing, it is not surface flattery if you are genuine and it comes from your heart.
It seems like a little thing and takes only a few seconds, but it puts a spring in their step, and they feel encouraged.
One of the most impacting little things you can do is write a personal note to someone.
When you take a few minutes to write someone a handwritten note, that personal touch from your heart to theirs is incredibly encouraging.
- Open doors of inclusion. To be invited is to be included, and that is always encouraging. I've listened to many stories about someone who had their feelings hurt because they were not invited to a special event or even just a particular meeting.
In a vulnerable moment, they shared, "I didn't really even want to go, but it would have been nice to be invited."
Hey, let's not judge, but instead, give them room to be human. Haven't we all thought or said that at least once? We all want to be included.
When you can open the doors for someone to be included in something they could not have experienced themselves, it's a powerful form of encouragement.
- Create opportunities for growth. Not everyone responds the same to this one, but anyone who wants to grow loves this form of encouragement.
When I'm invited to a learning experience, a special growth-oriented event or even just told about a great new book, something happens in my soul. I know that a person is interested in my well-being and personal growth. That is very meaningful and encouraging.
Every time you can create an opportunity to advance someone's personal growth, that investment in their life is transformative—not only from that experience itself, but the fact that you cared enough to open a door.
- Pray on the spot. Perhaps the greatest form of spiritual encouragement is to know you have been prayed for, and the only thing better is to be prayed for in-person. It doesn't matter where you are, from the lobby of your church to a restaurant; a brief prayer is always appropriate and incredibly encouraging.
Prayer is personal and carries a certain level of intimacy, so when you pray for someone, it creates an encouraging moment. This is true if for no other reason than the Holy Spirit is part of that experience no matter how brief.
I hope this post has been encouraging to you.
Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.
For the original article, visit danreiland.com.
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