Do your words build or destroy self-confidence in others?

Do your words build or destroy self-confidence in others?

Learning to ride bike

Giving constructive feedback focuses on what is happening and its consequences. When you couple encouragement with successful results, self-confidence and self-esteem multiply.

However, when a barrage of criticism is unleashed on the individual without offering any help, self-confidence takes a hit. Unfortunately, many supervisors belittle and demean the worker and demolish self-confidence and self-esteem.

Words can hurt

I worked for such a supervisor many years ago, and his words still sting when I think about them.

He would go around the table and scold each and every staffer for some aspect of his performance, sprinkling the diatribe with a few expletives for effect.

“Can’t you do anything right?”

“You (expletive deleted) moron! It doesn’t look like you’re getting anything done. What do you do all day?”

“Do I have to stand over you and tell you every little thing to do?”

“I can’t leave you alone for a minute without worrying that you’ll mess up something else.”

“You look the Three Stooges running around bumping into each other. You’re a screw up looking for a place to happen.”

Even when we did well, he made it sound like a miracle that surely couldn’t happen again in his lifetime.

I usually left the meeting feeling worse about myself, and I spent the rest of the week dreading the next staff meeting on Monday. Weekends were a quandary between being relieved that I had two days off and realizing it was only two days to the next public tongue-lashing.

Unfortunately, this scene is still all too common in the workplace. And it’s absolutely unnecessary. Supervisors can turn into INPowering leaders when they are people oriented, clear minded, and performance driven.

Use these encouraging phrases

“Let’s take a minute to make sure we are clear about what needs to happen.”

This establishes that you want to be certain everyone understands the outcomes expected and why they matter. It’s being clear minded.

“I want to make sure you are OK with everything.”

This people oriented phrase conveys that you are empathetic and concerned that everyone is calm and focused on being successful. Anxiety and stress contribute to mistakes and reactive behavior out of fear.

“I’m here to help you be successful.”

Success is performance driven. This phrase shows you are concerned that performance results be achieved and that you are not abandoning them to go it alone. They need your leadership.

Correct the what and encourage the who.

People want to be successful and proud of their accomplishments. When they are, the creative energy builds to produce even more success. Concentrate on improving the performance while keeping self-confidence and self-esteem intact.

As Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, says, “Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.”

When you INCourage the spirit,
you are
Leadership training, leadership development, Garland McWatters

012: Why motivation is not what you think [Podcast]

012: Why motivation is not what you think [Podcast]



SOL PODCST ART.ispx 300Many people talk about what motivates them, but no one explains what motivation actually is.

In this episode of the Spirit of Leading, I delve into the dynamics of motivation to understand how it works, and why. Some of the issues I discuss include:


  • Motivation is a natural force that manifests under the proper environmental conditions.
  • Motivation is a positive force. It’s opposite force is coercion and fear.
  • Motivation and coercion affect and our health.
  • Fear as a motivational strategy is doomed to fail over time.
  • Motivation is not a gimmick.
  • INPowered leaders must learn to use the natural energy of motivation more effectively.

See related post, What Turns You On?


Everyone is motivated. The question is, “By what?”

We the People–the “for all” principle

We the People–the “for all” principle

The preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America ranks among the most powerful political statements of all time, beginning with the simple, all inclusive phrase, “We the People of the United States.”

WE the peole Flag

Our Pledge of Allegiance to the flag is another, concluding with the phrase, “with liberty and justice for all.”

The foundation concept that underlies these is front and center in our nation’s original Declaration of Independence, “WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights–that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

INPowering leaders are first, and foremost, inclusive. To INPowering leaders their focus is what can we do together, in the interest of all, to make things better for all.

I have seen this Spirit of Leading in action at every level­–families, neighborhoods, communities, work groups, small businesses, and large corporations. When the spirit of INPowering leadership is working, leaders are answering these four questions from their followers:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. How are we getting there?
  3. Will I, and my loved ones, be OK?
  4. How will you help me get there?

When leaders are determined to make things better for all, the creative energy to find mutual solutions is unleashed.

  1. A common vision produces clear goals that all can get behind.
  2. Leaders are free to work on specific objectives and tactics that will move everyone toward a common destination.
  3. Buy-in will be higher, since people tend to support the goals they help to create. They can see themselves in the proposed future.
  4. Leaders are focused on constructive outcomes and collaborate to help everyone move forward together.

Leaders who build their power base on being divisive with, Us-against-Them rhetoric are actually dis-empowering and are working against the precepts of our founding documents and enduring principles. There will always be differences of opinion, but when those differences are cultivated into wedge issues designed to promote division, strife, and self-interest, they weaken the collective energy of We the People.

The power of inclusiveness is foundational to being
Leadership training, leadership development, Garland McWatters