I spent most of last week coaching leaders on their skills, abilities and results through the use of 360 assessments. While the experience, scope and overall skill of these leaders varied widely, one of the lessons I received from this process was a reminder of and deepening appreciation for the power of encouragement.
By the way, don’t miss that point – while I was the coach and supposed to be helping other people learn and gain insights, I learned at least as much as they did. It’s one of the most interesting and powerful points about coaching – when you do it well, you get as much as you give.
As I facilitated these discussions, I was consistently reminded of five important powers of encouragement.
Encouragement provides awareness. When we encourage people, we let them know what we think – and that they matter to us. Encouragement doesn’t have to mean that everything is perfect, or that there isn’t room for growth and improvement. But it does show that there is a foundation to build from. When we provide encouragement to others, they are more aware of the perceptions of others and this helps them understand their world and situation better.
Encouragement creates belief. When we know that others believe in us, it changes everything. This doesn’t always happen, especially as a coach in a work setting – not because the coach doesn’t believe, but because the belief goes unsaid for any number of reasons. When we encourage people, we are letting them know we see what they have done, and by extension, believe what they will be able to do in the future; and that improves their belief in themselves and their potential.
Encouragement builds confidence. Does your confidence grow when someone lets you know you are doing something well? Does your confidence increase when people let you know how what you are doing is making a difference? It is true for you and for others too. When we are encouraged, our confidence grows. The encouragement might provide a momentary lift or change someone’s confidence for a lifetime. Either way it matters, and you never know when what you will say will make a big difference in someone’s confidence.
Encouragement improves attitude. We never feel worse after someone encourages us. Encouragement almost by definition makes us feel better, puts a bounce in our step and smile on our face. And when our attitude is better, we are healthier, happier and more productive. Why wouldn’t we want to provide that to others?
Encouragement promotes action. Sometimes moving forward, taking action and trying new things is hard – for anyone. Look at the four items you have just read about: awareness, belief, confidence and attitude; as we have more of any one of these, our ability and willingness to take action grows, doesn’t it? Now imagine something that we could do or say to someone else that grew all four . . . how powerful would that be? Genuine, authentic, meaningful encouragement is that thing; and that is how powerful it can be.
These points are true for anyone in any context. And when we put it in the organizational context and think about the role encouragement can play for us as a coach in helping others improve, it is a powerful tool at your disposal. Not everyone is at the same level of achievement, or seemingly has the same need for encouragement. Don’t let these “facts” taint your view or dampen your willingness to share encouragement with those people. The people you lead and work with are people – and everyone benefits from encouragement that is honest, authentic and well intentioned.
Let me close with two of the definitions of the word, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident:
Something that makes someone more likely to do something
Yes, these definitions align with my points above. Much more importantly though, both of those are things we desire in those that we lead and coach. When coaching anyone, regardless of their skill, experience or relative success, remember the power and importance of encouragement.
A final note: 360 assessments are a powerful tool for growth and improvement. If they are done well, they provide encouragement and much more! If you or other leaders in your organization would like to talk to us about how our 360 coaching process works, contact us so you can learn more and fill out a form so that one of our learning concierges will contact you to answer any questions.

Author's Bio: 

Join leaders from around the world as a member of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. This system includes two complimentary months of that unique system as part of Kevin Eikenberry's Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a time, at http://RemarkableLeadershipBook.com/bonuses.asp.