Tag Archives: Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others

Do You Know Your Weaknesses/Deficiencies? – (David Brooks says that this is our “Underlying Problem”)

(William Baldwin): “What is one big mistake that you’ve made in your life and what did you do to make it right?
(Miss Philippines, Maria Venus Raj): “…There is nothing major, major, I mean problem that I have done in my life…”
(at the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant)

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There is one theme that crops up again and again– in business books, in newspaper columns, even in the Miss Universe Pageant.  Here is the theme:  people do not know (or understand, or grasp, or “face”) their own weakness(es).

I first grasped the depth of this problem in reading Peter Senge years ago.  He worded it this way:

“People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, and their growth areas.”

And in a recent revisiting of the great book Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner, I read of it again:

We saw, over and over again, that leadership doesn’t depend on mystical qualities or inborn gifts but rather on the capacity of individuals to know themselves, their strengths, and their weaknesses, and to learn from the feedback they get in their daily lives – in short, their capacity for self-improvement.

Leadership development is self-development…  To know what to change in our lives, we need to understand what we’re doing that is getting the results we want and what we’re doing that is not.

And now, again this week, David Brooks, in his NY Times column A Case of Mental Courage, has these paragraphs (excerpted):

In this atmosphere, we’re all less conscious of our severe mental shortcomings and less inclined to be skeptical of our own opinions. Occasionally you surf around the Web and find someone who takes mental limitations seriously. For example, Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway once gave a speech called “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment.” He and others list our natural weaknesses: We have confirmation bias; we pick out evidence that supports our views. We are cognitive misers; we try to think as little as possible. We are herd thinkers and conform our perceptions to fit in with the group.

But, in general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.

To use a fancy word, there’s a metacognition deficit. Very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate. A few people I interview do this regularly (in fact, Larry Summers is one). But it is rare. The rigors of combat discourage it.

Of the problems that afflict the country, this is the underlying one.

Here are my reflections:

#1 – You do have deficiencies. There is some error, some mistake, some incompleteness in the way you think, act, work.  If you think you are perfect, then I hate to tell you, but people will not trust you, you will not be as successful as you could be at helping others grow and develop, and you will not win the Miss Universe crown.

#2 – Spotting your weakness(es) takes great courage. Good luck.

#3 – Spotting your weakness(es), and then working to correct it/them, is the best thing you can do for the next chapter of your business and personal life.

#4 – And, I hate to tell you this, but when you spot that next weakness, there will be another one to tackle after that, and then another, and still another….

And, yes, this post is, of course, written to me also.

How Do You Motivate An Employee? — How Do You Motivate Yourself?

Recently, after my first presentation of my synopsis/briefing of Daniel Pink’s Drive, I wrote these observations and questions/implications:

• Some observations:

1.              Different jobs require different approaches to motivation.
2.              Different people require different approaches to motivation.
3.              The extrinsic motivation of the last century works best for “routine” jobs.
4.              Extrinsic motivation can actually de-motivate for creative jobs.
5.              Jobs that require a great deal of creativity and innovation require intrinsic motivation.
6.              Intrinsic motivation is related to the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, and to the concept of Flow popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
7.              The new workplace is one that must evolve into a workplace of intrinsic motivation.

• Some questions/implications:

1.              Are you primarily intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated?
2.              How do you know which approach is the one that works best for you?
3.              When have you found yourself in the “state of flow?”
4.              How can you provide more autonomy for yourself, and others, in your workplace?
5.              How can you better affirm the desire for/need for mastery in your workplace?
6.              How can you help yourself and others strive to fulfill a higher purpose in your workplace?

I have long recommended Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner as the best book available on how to get the best out of employees.

Here’s my current reflection…  First, look at my first two observations:  different jobs do require different approaches to motivation.  A person repairing potholes likely needs a different set of rewards than a person who is tasked with coming up with a new marketing campaign.  And, two different people likely are motivated in different ways.  Kouzes and Posner strongly argue that all rewards should be personalized – i.e., designed for the person as in individual.

But for an increasing number of us, we work “alone.”  We have to manage our own work, we have to schedule our own time, and we have to “motivate ourselves.”  Though clients and others might encourage us some, we have to get going, day in and day out, on our own.

So – the question for me, and for a lot of you, is this question  — how do I motivate myself?

That is the challenge.

Coaching Anyone? – Some Practical Ideas You Can Use Right Now

Recently, I delivered my synopsis on the now classic Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner.

From the book, here are the seven essentials of encouraging:

1.              Set clear standards
2.              Expect the best
3.              Pay attention
4.              Personalize recognition
5.              Tell the story
6.              Celebrate together
7.              Set the example

Side comment:  in Susan Scott’s excellent book, Fierce Leadership, she encourages every leader to intentionally plan, and then initiate, those important conversations they need to have.  She suggests that every leader prepare, carry around, and use this sheet of paper:

Conversations I Need To Have:

Name:  _____________________________   Topic: _____________________________

Name:  _____________________________   Topic: _____________________________

Name:  _____________________________   Topic: _____________________________

In the midst of the presentation of the Kouzes and Posner book, I shared this idea.  Take a sheet of paper.  Turn it sideways.  Draw four boxes – one box for each of the four people that you most need to coach/mentor/encourage.  (If you have more than four, then use two sides of the sheet of paper).

Assign one of the four names to each of the boxes.  Divide each box into two halves.  And, constantly update, and use your notes to have those crucial, improant conversations.

Each box will look something like this:

A couple of observations.  If you actually want to help people get “better,” and get the best out of people, it is important to do more praising than correcting.  A lot more praising.

Second observation:  a retired military sergeant told me that the boxes look very similar to an initiative that he followed in the military.  The point was the same, but the wording was different.  Instead of praise/teach & correct, they used:  sustain/improve.

I think this is a practical way to help a coach serve more effectively, and especially more intentionally.

(One footnote:  John Wooden used to plan all of his practice sessions, to the minute, on 3×5 cards. And he was very intentional and direct, calling players by name, praising them, and teaching/correcting them).

A Message from Vaclev Havel — We Need A Workplace Built for Human Beings

We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional. (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken)
(quoted in Encouraging the Heart:  A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner.

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One of the great struggles in this or any era is this struggle – how do we maintain our common humanity?

Vaclev Havel

I was reading the brilliant speech given by Vaclev Havel when he assumed the presidency of his country  – still Czechoslovakia at the time — delivered in Prague, January 1, 1990.  (It’s available here).  He begins it with some withering honesty.

My dear fellow citizens, 
For forty years you heard from my predecessors on this day different variations on the same theme: how our country was flourishing, how many million tons of steel we produced, how happy we all were, how we trusted our government, and what bright perspectives were unfolding in front of us.
I assume you did not propose me for this office so that I, too, would lie to you.

But it is this paragraph that grabbed me most strongly.  It is not a new accusation, but he stated it so very clearly.

The previous regime – armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology – reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. In this it attacked both their very substance and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone. It could not do more than slowly but inexorably wear out itself and all its nuts and bolts.

As I have written often, the question of jobs – where will the jobs be? – is, I believe, the great question of this era.  But in the pursuit of answers to that question, we also have to answer this:  how shall we view the people who do these jobs?  The answer has to be this:  as human beings.

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(Yes, this speech is in the excellent volume/compilation Lend Me Your Ears, edited by William Safire – which I am reading, and re-reading, very slowly).