They say that “hope springs eternal.” Given that much of the country is burried under mountains of snow and/or bracing against freezing temperatures in what has been a challenging winter all around, I thought, “What better time for a few hopeful and encouraging thoughts?”
As a fanatical baseball fan, there’s nothing better — or more hopeful — than the mid-February day that your team’s “pitchers and catchers” report to Spring Training. While I’m sure that I’ll eventually muse about baseball-related HR lessons in this space, today, however, I wanted to offer a few thoughts about another aspect of hopefulness — that is, the hope and encouragement that good leaders spread to all those around them.
Welcoming Contributions From All
Attending Mass in my parent’s parish today, I observed something that I hadn’t seen before. When it came time for the collection, the pastor (an upbeat, encouraging man himself) invited all all the children in attendance to bring their dimes and dollars to a special jar he had set up upfront especially for this purpose — a gesture that not only (wisely) permitted them to expend some of their youthful energy running down the aisle, but also (quite literally) allowed even the smallest members of the community to contribute to the whole.
What better example of a leader reaching out to all members of the community (team, department, division, company, etc.), soliciting their involvement and contributions in ways meaningful to them. (One would only need to see the smiles on their faces as they ran back to their parents to know the many silent lessons being inculcated in them this day — a sense of contribution, a sense of being needed and valued, etc.).
As a word of encouragement to leaders (i.e., every one of us, regardless of role or position): What can we do today / this week to enable and encourage those around us to participate or contribute — and what can we change in ourselves to be more open to those contributions?
Rooting For Them
Just as sports fans “root” for their teams, encouraging leaders “root” for those in their charge. I remember long ago helping a new senior leader prepare for an important presentation at corporate. Though a naturally charismatic personality with a strong grasp on the facts and plans that she’d be presenting, she was nevertheless a bit nervous of stepping into this arena.
Upon her return, we were discussing how the presentation went. I vividly recall her broad smile in reply. “I was a little nervous starting off. But then I looked down and I saw Parker (our CEO) sitting in the front row. He was smiling up at me, with this look on his face that just told me how much he was rooting for me to do well. Once I saw that, I was fine and I sailed through the rest of the presentation.”
As encouraging leaders, what can we do to communicate to others — through our tone, and body language, and demeanor — how much we’re “rooting” for them?
- Spring Training a welcome winter antidote (mlb.mlb.com)
- Excitement in the air as pitchers, catchers report (mlb.mlb.com)
- Spring Training marks new beginning for Mets (mlb.mlb.com)