Do you perform better when you receive encouragement? So does everyone. Part of your job as a leader is to encourage those around you.

Encouragement literally means to ‘put courage in’, discouragement means to ‘take courage out’.

Encouragement motivates. A few simple words such as ‘stay strong’ or ‘you love a challenge’ or ‘speak well’ (before a presentation) can strengthen and re-energise the person you are talking to.

What’s a phone call from you like?

If you ring Claudia on your team how does she feel about herself when she puts the phone down? From time to time it should feel like Christmas day. When you help people to feel capable, confident and strong, they become more creative and more engaged. You strengthen their determination and unlock their discretionary effort.

What we’re saying here is use psychological pay cheques – appreciation, supportive feedback and praise. Make your people feel special and you will end up with a special team.

Leadership writer John Maxwell relates that when growing up he often went into his father’s office and on a card by the phone were the words ‘Build people up by encouragement’. It was one of the reasons that inspired his career.

Here are two quick ideas you can implement immediately:

The first is from Doug Conant, former CEO, Campbell Soups – every day he would spend time looking through the organisation for people deserving thanks. Then he would send them a hand written note of appreciation and encouragement. Over ten years he sent more than 30,000 notes. Handwritten notes are personal and likely to be cherished more than an email. Who could you send a note to today?

The second is from Richard Branson who always excels at the basics – he says ‘As a leader of people you have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people’. So look around your office. Who can you catch doing something right?

As leaders most of us underestimate the impact our approval has on others in the team.

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