I was raised in a home where my parents placed high expectations on me and my siblings. These expectations were reasonable and re-enforced regularly. For example, though no one on either side of our family had ever completed college, that was an expectation for me as early as I can remember. Behaving well at school was an expectation. I was one of those told often, “If you ever get in trouble at school and get spanked, you can expect the same thing when you get home, no questions asked.” As teenagers, we were expected to find work to earn spending money. We were expected to be home by the curfew time. We were expected to do what we would say we would do (or were told to do) and do it well.
In short, there were a number of expectations on me from my parents. Did I feel these were unreasonable or burdensome? No, of course not. And, I think the reason I understood, believed, and accepted these expectations was that my parents were also encouraging to us. They encouraged us to do well in school. They attended our school, band, and sporting events to encourage us — not just occasionally, but all of them! They encouraged us to do more than is expected. They encouraged us to stretch to expand our abilities or to see just how far we could go. They supported our teachers. They encouraged us to choose our friends wisely. I had friends that did not have parents that provided as much encouragement and it is apparent now that they did not perform as well. Their efforts were lacking and they simply felt that just getting by was good enough.
I see a number of parallels in our work. All leaders have certain expectations for us. They expect us to do our jobs well, do more than the minimum, and work diligently to help the company succeed. However, the GOOD leaders do much more than establish expectations. They also provide encouragement. They follow-up. They ensure we have the tools and resources needed. They help us understand the importance of what we are doing. They recognize us for our efforts though praise, both private and public. They support us and those working with us. And, they expect us to do our jobs with minimal interference from them. Bottom line… the very BEST leaders use encouragement and support to motivate us to perform much better than we ever would without it. They elevate our performance by encouraging and motivating us.
As a leader of people, how are you doing in the area of encouragement. Are you an encouraging parent? Are you an encouraging coworker? Are you a consistent encourager of those you work around? Having expectations without providing a steady and consistent stream of encouragement leads a lack of motivation and, as a result, lesser performance and satisfaction.
Have a wonderful, safe, and productive day!