One of the biggest life transitions I’ve experienced was when I became a parent. It was a brand new responsibility and the future of my children truly depended on how my wife and I raised them. Talk about pressure.
When I look back on those early years as a new parent I can’t help but be grateful that I came into that stage of life knowing full-well that I had no idea what I was doing. Jen and I talked at length with our parents, read numerous books, and researched everything from discipline, to eating habits, to socialization – through that experience I discovered something very interesting; it was a piece of advice that relates to parenting but also to nurturing a successful team:
Everyone needs a positive emotional climate in order to perform at their highest level.
It’s amazing how our personal experiences have an impact on the way we lead, isn’t it? As a parent of two, and now as an entrepreneur and leader of dozens of employees, I have plenty of opportunities to practice what I’m preaching. Dr. Henry Cloud in his great book, Boundaries for Leaders expands on this concept for leaders. Positive stress is necessary to motivate people and move them to action. This occurs when the emotional climate is supportive but honest and the focus is on achieving a goal rather than on assigning blame or shame.
You have to remember that your position as a leader carries a lot more weight with people than you may realize. People have an innate disposition to want to please their leaders and not let them down.
The job of the leader is to ensure a healthy environment, to orient one’s staff around a communication paradigm that thrives on encouragement. Research shows that a “getting better” orientation from superiors is far better at long-term motivation vs. a “perfection” orientation. We all want to be around people who help us become better and who are willing to work with us to get there.