Most Managers Don’t Know How to Encourage Others. But They Can Learn.

“Leaders who don’t encourage will eventually be surrounded by a discouraged team.”

In 1832, Abraham Lincoln lost his job and was defeated in a bid for the state legislature. That defeat set off a string of failures and heartbreak for the future-president. His business failed, leaving him in debt for the next 17 years; his fiance died unexpectedly; he had a nervous breakdown causing him to be homebound for two years; he lost seven elections.  

While we will never know what was going on in the heart of Lincoln during those setbacks, he never gave up and got discouraged. Not only did his tenacity and courage payoff, but the skills and toughness he acquired helped him lead during turbulent times. Today he is widely considered to be one of the greatest presidents of the history of the United States because of his fantastic accomplishments. 

Tough times don’t last, tough people do.  

Lincoln is proof of the truth behind Robert Schuller words.

Why getting discouraged will destroy you

If there is a time you’re going to get discouraged, it’s now. A seemingly endless period of uncertainty, fear, and doubt clutters your mind daily. Instead of getting up early to read, workout, or beat the traffic, you are faced with the all-important decision about whether you should shower or not before you start remote work. 

Regardless of your particular situation, no one is exempt from getting discouraged. The word “courage” comes from the Latin root “cor,” which means “heart.” So literally, the word discouraged means, “disheartened.” While no one would blame you for having a broken heart about the current situation, it’s losing your heart that we can’t allow to happen.  

A broken heart is okay, losing your heart isn’t.

While it’s possible for one superhuman professional to single handily find ways not to get discouraged, that’s the exception, not the rule. We need leaders to encourage us and keep us moving forward. If you find yourself in a position where you need to do this for others, here are some strategies:

1. Start with empathy about their situation

One of my mentors told me early in my career, “Everybody is going through something whether you know it or not.” Start from a place of empathy.  

Remote workers are juggling working from home and teaching their kids at the same time. For the first week, my kids were out of school, I didn’t believe it was a tough job. In the last two weeks, I’ve experienced the challenges of teaching my son, I have great empathy for any working parent who is in the same boat.  

Even if you haven’t been in an employees exact position, you can still empathize. When you do this, they will be more open to the strategies and the words you decide to use.

2. Focus on your environment to maintain hope

One of the exceptional leaders I wrote about in Building the Best, Bob Caslen, provided fantastic insight in an email interview this week. He said:  

“One of the most important things leaders must do in crisis and adversity is to maintain hope. If hope becomes forlorn, then morale quickly plummets. In order to maintain hope, the leader must know the environment; where the challenges are and where the opportunities are. He or she must have the agility and adaptiveness to find the opportunities and to develop and pursue them. It is in this environment, that hope is maintained, and where hope can grow. And when hope is strong, people do not get discouraged.”

Take Caslen’s words to heart and focus your efforts on understanding your team’s environment. Explore strategies and solutions to that will allow your team to quickly adapt and pivot to provide hope to your people.  

3. Use specific words and phrases

Words are powerful things. To keep your team from becoming discouraged, you must use strong and powerful language. In the latest episode of the Follow My Lead podcast, Mike Robbins, author of the new book We’re All in This Together, shared a powerful lesson all leaders need to add to their arsenal: “Even though it doesn’t seem like it, you have more than this moment requires.”

I don’t know a better, more powerful phrase for you to use with your team on a regular basis more than this, “You have more than this moment requires.” Here are a few more of my favorites:  

“You were born for this.”

“If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

“You haven’t given up yet for a reason.”

“You are a blessing.”

Or this one from Rachel Hollis:


If you’re uncertain about your ability to lead your team away from discouragement, remember Abraham Lincoln. He continued on for years, with no proof or evidence, seemingly alone. The difference is your team doesn’t have to do it alone. You can lead them. Take this responsibility seriously by having empathy, maintaining hope, and using specific words to encourage them. Remember leaders who don’t encourage will eventually be surrounded by a discouraged team.

You have more than this moment requires!

Whom are you going to encourage today? How are you going to encourage your team this week?

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making victual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

3 Certain Failures All Leaders Will Encounter

As lovely as it would be to have a smooth, easy path to success as a leader, failure is an inevitable part of the process. The stories of some of the great leaders of all time are filled with more failures than success. Take Abraham Lincoln, for example; he was defeated or rejected from public office seven times before ever being elected as the President of the United States at age 51. A combination of his determination and the ability to learn from earlier failures was key to his eventual success as a leader. 

Henry Ford famously said, “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Failure isn’t final, failure is feedback. 

Regardless of how long you have been leading, failure is going to happen. However, if you use failure as feedback, you create an opportunity to learn and make improvements for the future. Here are a few of the guaranteed failures all leaders will make at some point in their journey.

1. Waiting too long to change

Most leaders tend to get comfortable with their current systems and practices, especially if they have brought good results in the past.

Unfortunately, this can leave your team or company less equipped to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. As Charles Koch said on the Tim Ferriss Podcast, “Too many leaders of companies are short-term oriented versus long-term oriented.” Koch is right; leaders should always be looking long-term especially in the area of innovation.

During a recent email exchange on innovation, Imran Tariq, CEO of Webmetrix Group, wrote to me, “Business leaders need to develop an agile mindset, especially in the digital age. Being slow to change can be costly, but failing to change at all will prove fatal.” 

Tariq has raised more than $400 million to acquire and scale seven-figure companies, so his quick note hit home for me on a personal level, as I’ve struggled with the building of my own leadership development company. Yes, older methods of creating revenue and implementing new learning solutions still work, but the signs of change are written on the wall. It’s no different in your industry or with your team — it just comes down to how open you are to change.

2. Handling a situation with a team member poorly

It doesn’t matter how long you have been leading a team; at some point, you will lay in bed at night wishing you had handled a situation with a team member differently. It could be the words you chose to use, the emotions you showed in a particular moment, or the lack of empathy.

No leader is perfect, and mistakes are just part of the job. It’s how you learn from those mistakes is what will separate you from others. Get in the habit of writing down the mistakes you make in particular situations and reviewing them every month. Look for opportunities to apply those lessons in future interactions with team members.

3. Bad hires

Even if you have an intensive process in place for vetting potential hires, you never know if someone will live up to expectations until they have actually joined your team. No matter how good of a judge, you may think you are, every business leader will make a bad hire at some point.

Even when hiring for low-level positions, a single bad hire can prove extremely costly — in my company LearnLoft’s research; we estimate the cost to be between $100k – $115k per leader.

The consequences aren’t strictly financial. They take a toll on you emotionally. I have made multiple bad hires in my day leading a company, and it’s hard not to take it personally. You not only are putting the person you have hired in a bad position, but it’s also difficult for other members of your team to pick up the slack of team members who leave.  

As painful as a bad hire can be, this can present a valuable learning experience that helps you hire better in the future. Just keep in mind this quote from Simon Sinek, which has become my guide: “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

Yes, failure can be frustrating. It can lead to significant financial losses, and possibly even the end of a current business endeavor. However, remember, failure isn’t final. Failure is feedback.  

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn professionals into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.