Encourage the Heart by Setting Clear Standards

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Leaders who strive for the success of their team would do best if they encourage the heart of their people through setting clear standards. Being specific and clear about the expectations of your team members provides a foundation for encouragement and the possibility for excellence.

What the experts say!

In their book Encouraging the Heart, Kouzes and Posner claim that “the first prerequisite for encouraging the heart is to set clear standards.” They explain that by “standards” they mean both the goals and values for the organization. Clear communication from the leadership of a company is essential to establishing the culture and foundation for encouragement.

My experience with clear standards

In my career with small businesses and non-profit organizations, one of the hardest things I have had to work through has been understanding the standards and expectations for my work. What is my responsibility!! Some leaders just march forward with a mess in their wake and have unspoken expectations for their team. They assume you will read their minds and figure out the right work to do – because they simply think it is the best or most obvious work.

This is especially tough for me as an Enneagram 1 and a C in the DISC profile. For those who don’t understand what that means – I am analytical and have an inner drive to be right, precise, and accurate. You might respond differently than I do, but most of us like to at least have confidence that we doing the right work for the right reasons.

Helpful research on clear standards:

Our research shows that values make a difference in how people behave inside organizations and how they feel about themselves, their colleagues, and their leaders. We know that people expect their leaders to stand for something; that they expect them to have the courage of their convictions; and that credibility is the foundation of leadership. The first step toward credibility as a leader is clarifying personal values.

Kouzes & Posner in Encouraging the Heart (49-50) Tweet

They demonstrate from their research that people clearly respond better when their personal values match with the communicated and followed values and standards of the organization. Leaders must explain (often!) what they expect of their entire team (values) and of the individuals (standards). 

Encouragement, it can be said, is a form of feedback. It’s positive information that tells us that we’re making progress, we’re on the right track, we’re living up to the standards.

Kouzes & Posner in Encouraging the Heart (58) Tweet

Set the tone for excellence!

When leadership sets the tone for excellence, and lives up to it, the team will know what excellence looks like and clarity on how to achieve it. We can be encouraged by our progress toward a goal and thrive within an atmosphere with values they believe in.

Reference:

Kouzes, James and Barry Posner. Encouraging the Heart – A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others. The Leadership Challenge, 2003. 

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About author

Author
Daniel David

For the past several years, I have been on a quest to become a stronger "me" in all the work for which I am a steward (home and office). I am convinced that regular positive messages of encouragement, leadership, and mindfulness will help strengthen us for the journey of life. I have been married to the love of my life for 14 years and we have three children. I am a Texan and a proud graduate of Texas A&M. I work for a small software company called AdvanceNet (www.advancenetlabs.org) My experience as a leader through work and church, my education in seminary, and the coaching I have received through mentors has given me a passion to engage in personal growth. Thank you for your interest in joining me in this journey.

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