While there are many gifts leaders can give to those they lead, we round out our list with two more empowering gifts: belief or confidence and encouragement.
Belief and Confidence. Knowing someone believes in you and has confidence in you can be quite a boost. Often our insecurities and doubts can run around in our self-talk and cause us to question our skills and abilities. As leaders, we can come alongside those we lead and offer them the gift of saying “I believe in you,” or “I am confident you can do this.”
One key to being able to give this gift is that it must be authentic: we have to actually see potential or capacity in the person. That vision for potential comes from seeing them, knowing them for who they are, and acknowledging both the good and the bad balanced out in them as a unique person. This can also be reflected in a group dynamic: seeing in the members of a group the right stuff to accomplish a goal together. The bottomline? We need to know the people we lead in order to develop that kind of vision for potential or capacity.
In addition to acknowledging their potential, we can show our people we truly believe in them by stepping out of their way and letting them do their work. A leader who constantly intervenes is not one who is communicating belief or confidence in people. That breeds doubt and insecurity.
Once we’re acknowledging potential and letting people do their jobs, we must proactively speak out the confidence in our team. As leaders we might feel confidently internally about our people, but those we lead may not know what we are feeling about them. It is a shame when the belief or confidence of a leader is not known or experienced by those they lead. We need to verbalize it to them rather than assume they know or feel it, reassuring them of our belief and confidence in them. When combined with earlier gifts of the freedom to fail and our support, this can be truly powerful in setting people free to excel.
Encouragement. Closely related to confidently believing in our people is the gift of encouragement. Some view this as being a kind of cheerleader for people, but it goes beyond that. Like many of the other gifts we have described, most people will be at best temporarily encouraged with empty words. True encouragement comes from knowing we are known and accepted, being confident that someone is rooting for us and our success, and being sure that someone sees the progress we are making toward a goal. Often, the most valuable encouragement comes in the process, not at the completion of the goal. It’s the ability to recognize when people might need that extra little moment to say, “You’re on the right track! Keep going.”
We must be specific! Rather than simply saying “Great job!” as the standard encouragement, why not look for something specific? “Great job! I noticed how you did . . . . . . .” is going to be much more encouraging since it shows you took the time to notice something specific. Another part of encouragement could be reminding our team members that if needed, you are available to help. Feeling alone is not something most people enjoy. It can be scary at times.
As you look around at the people you lead this week, which ones need to know and experience your belief and confidence in them? How are you going to go about showing and communicating that to them? How can you exercise and sharpen your skills of encouragement for your people? As with the other gifts, be generous, but be specific and clear.
Being a gift giving leader can bring incredible joy, both to the giver and the receivers. While there is a cost to these gifts, the return on the investment is assured. You as a leader are better for it, and the people you lead will also benefit.