Disengaged employees are a growing problem for many organizations today. People lack commitment, can be cynical mutterers, and even saboteurs of company initiatives.
How can you as a team or organizational leader motivate better performance, even breakthroughs? The answer has many components, from creating a high-performance culture of character with clear goals and empowered followers to many other leadership approaches.
We believe there are some things you should say (if you sincerely believe them) to your team members that will go a long way to increasing their confidence and performance. Here are the three most important things you can say:
“I believe in you.”
Sometimes even good team members lack confidence, or don’t know where they stand. They may question their own judgment, or doubt they have the requisite experience, or fear they will make a mistake. Those feelings are normal. Every leader has doubts at times. Challenging situations seldom have clear paths to success.
Few things can be a better confidence booster than hearing a respected leader say, “I believe in you.” That encouragement can be a game-changer. Often, there are many paths to success, and it merely takes a bold push forward to reach the goal. Tell your colleagues you believe in them, and watch them step up and start to shine.
“I trust you.”
Trust in a person, like belief in a person, is a confidence builder. It says your judgment is good; your values are good; and you have my confidence.
Trust is built over time between colleagues as they learn who will keep their commitments, who can be relied upon, and who will find a way to achieve when others give up.
When trust is felt and expressed, people feel a sense of liberation and joy. They radiate confidence to others and inspire them. Performance and creativity soar.
“I have your back.”
People know that some endeavors will fail, despite the best of efforts. If the politics of the organization seek people to blame for failures, then even trusted colleagues may be risk-averse.
That timidity will disappear if they know their leader will protect and defend them, even against the ultimate “powers that be.”
The effective leader removes roadblocks for team members and vigorously fights for their autonomy, even when mistakes have been made. She repositions their errors as great learning experiences, and is even willing to put her badge on the desk, threatening to resign, if her team members are sanctioned. Her team is her team, win or lose. She has their backs.
Do your colleagues know you believe in them, trust them, and have their backs?
What do you say to encourage and inspire your team members?
Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations.