I’m a member of a local organization of professional coaches. We recently had a very powerful meeting, and one of the attendees described it in a way which really stuck with me:

“An encouragement based community.”

In fact, that does describe how I feel about this group. More importantly, it got me thinking about how we often use “support” but not “encouragement.” In groups, communities, and the workplace.

Enlightened managers and leaders are aware that they need to support their folks. It should go without saying, but I’m shocked at how many look at their people as just generic units of work. You pay a worker, they do stuff, and that’s about all you can expect.

It’s an attitude which is stuck back in the Industrial Revolution, and clearly not suited to the 21st century.

So you need to support them. Help them when they have difficulties.

But that word “support” conveys little emotion. A table supports whatever’s sitting on it, but let’s be honest: it doesn’t have to CARE what’s sitting on it. It just sits there.

That’s a pretty passive image, right? Nothing is moving. No forward progress.

What we want from our teams is movement, productivity, and contribution. That’s where peoples’ emotions come into play.

I love the word “encouragement” in this context because it’s about connecting peoples’ emotions together. Not only will I help solve problems with you, but I’ll help you to feel better about what you’re trying to do. I’ll reinforce that it matters and that YOU matter. Just because you’re you, not because I want to get work out of you.

Wouldn’t you love more encouragement from the groups you’re connected with?