Remember a time when you were encouraged about your potential. Who? When? What? Where?

And, most importantly, how did the encouragement make you feel—and what did you do as a result? From the time I was new to the work world, I have had wonderful mentors and colleagues, and now clients, who have encouraged me to “go for it.”

Encouragement Creates Energy

Last week, I started working with a young professional. When I ask, “What do you most want from our work?” the answer was “your advice and guidance.” With some detailed pre-work in hand, I heard myself say, “I believe that the most important thing I can offer is my encouragement.” Naturally, it’s assumed that I will offer guidance and have ideas as well.

At the end of the hour, I asked how the meeting went and the statement was “I got exactly what I needed—your thoughtful, positive encouragement.” Think about it, this person is a high-performer, self-examining, and confident—and, the encouragement was both easy and needed. Needed because we all wonder and worry about what we know and what we don’t know.

We were working virtually, but I could actually see the lift in energy.

Encouragement Must Be Authentic

Random encouragement or inauthentic encouragement can be counter-productive.  Let me give you a non-work example.

I am taking a landscape and portrait painting class. The teacher is a superb artist and is encouraging to every student. In theory, that makes sense—art students may be intimidated and the teacher wants them to return. If I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I might think that he sees the smallest of good in every canvas. But when he tells me, “that’s looking really good”and even with artist-squinting, I know it’s really not—the encouragement loses any lift. So, encouragement should not be blanket rah-rah. Rather, your encouragement should be grounded in fact and expertise.

This week, look for an opportunity to fuel your people with authentic encouragement!