Why I Lead by Encouragement

During my career in various leadership positions at work worldwide, in my own projects, businesses and in my personal life, I adopted Leadership by Encouragement as my management style. I believe my style of leading people counts very much for my own successful career.

One of the essential ingredients of Leadership by Encouragement is you have to believe in, value and respect people in your organization. This is the opposite of the corporate-as-usual mantra “our people are our most vital asset”. People are not asset. They are not cogs in a complicated machine.

“The way management treats the associates is exactly how the associates will then treat the customers” – Sam Walton

What is the philosophy and psychology of Leadership by Encouragement? According to Don Dinkmeyer and Daniel Eckstein in their book “Leadership by Encouragement”, the following¬†points below provide an overview for an aspiring LBE leader.

Philosophy of Leadership by Encouragement:

  • People in organizations are underdeveloped. Ecouraged people have self-steem, are cooperative and want to be productive.
  • You can increase productivity by getting, using and promoting ideas of your employees, at every level. You have to do this continuously and consistently.
  • As leader, you facilitate and create environment in which your employees can grow, contribute and create.
  • Excellence comes from clear vision and goals, consistent and inclusive decisions and decisive actions. Each employee is responsible for actions and results.
  • You motivate people by their goals and feeling of belonging. As you align goals with company goals you create a community of belonging. The feeling of belonging leads to minimizing destructive tensions and increased productivity.

Important part of the Leadership by Encouragement philosophy is that as a leader you need to create environment in which you encourage creativity and courage. You need to create a safe environment for your employees to flourish. An environment in which mistakes are tolerated, though process of “lessons learned” need to be in place.

Psychology of Encouragement:

  • We choose, decide and act in line with our goals and values.
  • Feeling of belonging is a key ingredient for the individual and for stimulating growth in your organization.
  • We strive to move from less significance to a position in which we are recognized and valued.
  • Our experiences and perception drive our behaviour.
  • Discouraged employees lack self-esteem. The have no desire to cooperate. They believe they cannot successfuly contribute, therefore they resort to passivity first, and to destructive ways of relating later. They doubt their abilities. They focus on external control and evaluation, unrealistic standards and emphasis on personal gain.
  • Identify positive potential in every situation.
  • Give recognition through positive feedback.
  • Empower, instead of exercising the power over others.

In summary, I characterize Leadership by Encouragement as a social skills approach in which leaders:

  • See situations as opportunities, not problems.
  • Respect individuality and similarities.
  • Give recognition, give credit rather than take credit themselves.
  • Communicate openly (say what you mean, mean what you say)
  • Develop people
  • Participate as equals
  • Replace language of power (control, direct, punish, threaten, order, demand…) with language of encouragement (resolve, influence, persuade, collaborate, obtain agreement, win employees over, agree to disagree)

References: Dinkmeyer, Eckstein: Leadership by Encouragement