The Leadership Challenge – Week 6 – Encourage the Heart

The fifth and final Practice of Exemplary Leadership from The Leadership Challenge is to encourage the heart. This is my personal favorite of the leadership practices outlined by Kouzes and Posner. Leaders have a special responsibility to those who follow them. The best leaders are those who genuinely care. They recognize the importance of motivating and supporting their people.

Kouzes and Posner remind us that, “Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow.” We can accomplish extraordinary things together; thus, being a successful leader depends on your “capacity to build and sustain…relationships.”

As part of encouraging the heart, the authors of The Leadership Challenge identify two commitments:

  1. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.
  2. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

Think about a time when someone showed appreciation to you in a way that was meaningful. Regardless of whether it was a grand gesture or a simple handwritten thank you note, you were reminded that you matter. Good leaders personalize recognition rather than going with a one-size-fits-all approach. They take time to get to know folks personally and thus can be genuine in how they recognize accomplishments.

Leaders have a knack for bringing people together and fostering a sense of community. They realize the importance of creating teams with shared values and mutual respect. They check their egos at the door, and their motto is “if it is to be, it is up to we, not me.”

Challenge Questions for Today:

  • How do I show gratitude to those who matter most to me?
  • In what ways do I encourage my family, friends, and colleagues to be the best they can be?
  • Do I show my passion and compassion in all that I say, think, and do?
  • How do I create community, promote teamwork, and celebrate accomplishments with those I lead?

Thanks for journeying with me through The Leadership Challenge! This is definitely one of my favorite books about leadership. Make a commitment today to a be a leader that makes a difference! If SOS Leadership can be of assistance on your journey, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Source: Kouzes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z. (2002). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

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