The Importance of Encouraging the Heart in our Organizations

Oftentimes we leave the word “love” out of professional settings. What we don’t understand is love is at the core of all organizations, especially service-oriented organizations.  Those of us with a deep sense of personal leadership, are driven by passion and purpose, which are rooted in love of not only what we do but a love of people. As servant, educational leaders, selflessness is our natural instinct. We are committed to the service of our communities, and oftentimes convince ourselves that we aren’t strong leaders if we lead with love.  As leaders, it’s highly important that the buckets of our team are refilled as they pour into our children and families. 

During my 15-plus years in the field of education, I’ve taken notice that many leaders don’t identify human kindness, recognition of accomplishments, and mutual respect as cornerstones of leading a community.  These qualities are minimized and less valued than monitoring, disciplining, and managing.  James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s book Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others, highlights the importance of encouraging the hearts of those in which we are stewards of.  They attest that motivating individuals is a thoughtful approach to leadership and enables people to feel valued.  As many of us strive to dispel barriers to student achievement and heal broken communities, we are faced with immense challenges.  Admittedly, this is hard work! Enabling our community to be optimistic, takes recognizing and celebrating their contributions. Sharing the rewards of efforts, celebrating accomplishments and openly loving on your people goes a long way. 

Leading in difficult situations can also cause people to feel hopeless, drained, and desire to give up.  Genuine, random acts of kindness have the power to transform entire communities.  Building up a culture of true celebration provides teams with a positive environment even in times of strife. It confirms that we are side by side in the work, actualizing the vision together. Encouraging your team, providing personalized appreciation, leading with positivity, and stimulating contributions can create extraordinary results! Authentic relationships are built upon mutual trust and respect. As Rita Pierson says, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like!” The same holds true for leaders, I hope you will consider loving on them and yourself. 

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