Encourage the Heart to Build Community and Achieve Results

Mar 17, 2022

Have you ever worked on a project, contributed to the success of an initiative, or landed that big client for your organization and were met with…well, nothing? Without celebration, or at least appreciation, hard work can often feel thankless, and it’s hard to maintain motivation and commitment while feeling underappreciated.


For many in the business world, knowing how to create a spirit of community and appreciation doesn’t come as naturally as learning how to meet deadlines and drive results. Learning how to create an environment where wins are celebrated, contributions are appreciated, and hard work is recognized is the last of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®: Encourage the Heart.


Whether you are a traditional leader of people, or an individual contributor, learning how to Encourage the Heart is an important part of becoming an exemplary leader. Taking time to connect, engage, and celebrate is imperative when creating a spirit of community that not only considers achievement and success, but also, the heart.


Recognize Contributions

As James Kouzes and Barry Posner say in The Leadership Challenge®, “Believing that people can succeed is only part of the equation. If you want people to give their all, to put their hearts and minds into their work, you must also make certain that people know what they are supposed to be doing.”


Setting clear expectations, goals, and rules provides a clear path to success. Celebrating the wins of high performers gives everyone something to work towards but encouraging people along the way is just as important.

Personalize Recognition

A one-size-fits-all approach to recognition may be better than none, but only slightly, as that kind of approach can feel forced and insincere. Taking time to get to know individuals will help you understand what kind of recognition would feel meaningful to them. Some people like public acknowledgement for their hard work and others prefer a personal note or increased responsibilities.

Celebrate Victories

Many organizations overlook the importance of social connection. “When social connections are strong and numerous, there’s more trust, reciprocity, information flow, collective action, and happiness – and, by the way, greater wealth,” say Kouzes and Posner. Creating a sense of social connection amongst coworkers can lead to better workplace wellbeing, accountability, and commitment to the organization.


Taking time to connect with workplace celebrations, recognition gatherings, or purely social time whether virtually or in-person can bring joy and connection to the workplace which helps to build that spirit of community that helps leaders Encourage the Heart.

When you are involved with every level of your organization and seek to know and understand the people you work with, these celebrations and recognition events will be inherently more meaningful as you will have been there every step of the way.

Like any skill, learning how to Encourage the Heart takes consistent self-reflection, commitment, and practice. Through utilizing the behaviors outlined in the fifth of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, you can take another step on your journey to becoming an exemplary leader, while inspiring others to improve their own leadership qualities along the way.


As you embark on your journey to become an exemplary leader, the Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI®) assessment can guide the process. The LPI measures how frequently each individual exercises The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership and with this information, individuals at any level and in any organization can identify exactly where they excel as leaders and where they have opportunities to improve. Learn more about The Leadership Challenge solutions.


The Leadership Challenge, Copyright © 2017 by James M Kouzes and Barry Posner

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