THE STEPHEN GOWER BLOG

Did You Forget that I Was Here?

by | Leadership

Couched between “Stephen” and “Gower” lies my middle name, “Macklyn.” If recognized at all, “Macklyn” is reduced to “M”–one letter preceded by seven letters and followed by five letters. “Macklyn” is overpowered, camouflaged, dwarfed by “Stephen” and “Gower.” “Macklyn” responds: “Did you forget that I was here?”

For decades, I have worked with organizations that have treated some of their team members in a counter productive fashion. This has led employees to wonder: “Did you forget that I was here?” Team members are driven to the question: “Why does he remember me when I make a mistake, and forget me when I do well?”

Team members perceive an attitude of indifference, or apathy, when we refuse to catch them doing well, but catch them when there is an issue to confront. The truth is: “We catch them at the point of both mistake and success.” The problem is that we express our feelings when the issue is confrontation, and assume that they know how we feel when the issue is affirmation.

There are some simple “How to’s” that will help you:

1. Practice assumption awareness,
2. Practice assumption avoidance,
3. Be as specific and intense when you affirm as you are when you confront.

The glue that binds the three “how to’s” is leadership. The heart of leadership is encouragement. Assumption is the number one enemy of encouragement.

Two of the foremost authors on the subject of leadership are James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. Their signature book is The Leadership Challenge. A less known book, but one of my favorites, is Encouraging the Heart—A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others. In this book, the authors make clear that encouragement is one of the most difficult and valuable leadership skills of all.

I have written several books on leadership. One of my most popular books is Have You Encouraged Someone Today? 366 Ways to Practice Encouragement. This book begins with this observation: “We do not grow when you incessantly put us down. That is when we self-destruct. We grow when you lead by affirming us at the point of our strengths. That is when we self-correct.”

Given ample encouragement that is specific and intense, others will ask “Did You Forget that

I Was Here? less often. Assumption minus articulation equals aggravation. Education plus encouragement equals effectiveness.

ABOUT STEPHEN GOWER
Stephen is the best-selling author of 26 books, including What Do They See When They See You Coming? He has also written countless articles for a variety of publications and has produced multiple audio books and video programs. He has appeared on PBS Television and XM Sirius Satellite Radio. He continues to hold one of the highest invite-back ratios in the speaking profession.