5 Effective Ways to Encourage the Discouraged (Including You)

5 Effective Ways to Encourage the Discouraged (Including You)

“In a world of dull boring management, the essence to me of everything that we accomplish in life, from the trivial to the grand is failure.  You don’t ride a bike the first time.  You don’t play a violin the first time.”  Psychology Today, Tom Peters.


Every leadership team experiences discouragements, individually and collectively, in the course of their professional lives.  Even in completing a very successful project or exceeding a key goal, it happens.  Just as athletes and entertainers continually correct their behavior in response to the environment and internal stimuli, so do high performing business leaders and their teams.


The effective ways to encourage yourself and others listed below are based on a very simple principle – the emotional response that comes with discouragement is a behavior that can be changed through a brief assessment and change in approach.  Very often leaders and teams reinforce their discouragement by repeatedly engaging in the same behavior with predictably bad results. Try the following:


  • Take a break and review the current circumstances that are particularly discouraging for you and your team.  “Honest” means ruthless honesty that accounts for all elements that contribute to the sense of discouragement, and what you have been attempting to overcome it.


  • Undertake the same review with your team members, including 1:1 time as necessary, to determine the specific elements of the sense of failure and what they have been objectively trying to address the discouragement.  Sometimes a coach is a great solution, particularly on a 1:1 basis.  Sometimes someone may have to leave the business as your bus is not their bus.


  • Reshape your strategy for success based on what you learn.  An important principle is not to repeat what you already know has been sincerely tried, with consistently bad results (another definition of insanity).  Also, make sure there is an opportunity to recognize, and even celebrate the attainment of goals. When discouragement set in, encouragement based on obvious success often seems “hollow” until a pattern of recognition is reinforced by leadership.


  • Nourish your soul.  Very simply, look at your life balance and adjust or overhaul whatever needs attention.  Rest, nutrition, and social/family time can be tweaked even in the midst of a brutal work schedule loaded with performance deadlines and a near-perpetual sense of weariness.


  • Lastly, if you are a leader you can double your encouragement, by discussing the nature of discouragement and dealing with it openly with your co-workers.  This openness and honesty is a leadership behavior of emotionally intelligent executives and it can inspire your performance, as well as that of others.