The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for Creating An Encouraging Environment

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Good encouragers are like good gardeners. They create an environment in which people can grow.

They may aim to create an encouraging relationship, family, school, work place, culture or whatever. People often look back on these positive models and follow similar principles to help others in the future.

Looking back, when did you experience being in an encouraging environment? Some people talk about their parents being nurturing. Some talk about friends, teachers, managers, leaders and others who embodied the spirit of generosity.

Some people talk about critical points in their lives when they chose to encourage other people. They found that this brought benefits to both themselves and others.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you experienced being in an encouraging environment.

Describe the specific things that people did to create the encouraging environment.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of people creating the encouraging environment.

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Encouragers sometimes do more than support people on a one-to-one basis. As mentioned earlier, they create an environment that enables people to grow. The culture they create can reach many people and produce a lasting legacy.

How do they create this environment? Sometimes they simply get on with helping people to grow. This is often the case when building a relationship or a family.

Encouragers also sometimes do work that involves other people. They may aim to lead a project, school, team or organisation. This often calls for a more structured approach to creating a positive environment.

Let’s explore some of the steps people take to make this happen.

Explaining The Environment

Good leaders, for example, are moral and explain the culture before people join a project, team or organisation. Different leaders use different ways to explain the environment. It is vital, however, that they outline:

The goals of the project, team or organisation and the benefits of achieving these goals.

The guidelines that people will be encouraged to follow – the overall Dos and Don’ts and the reasons for these – to reach the goals.

People can take time to reflect and decide if they want to opt into contributing to the culture.

Encouragers then follow certain guidelines for creating a stimulating environment. They often combine elements that, at first sight, may seem contradictory. They balance encouragement, education, enablement and enforcement.

Encouragement

They provide encouragement. They provide a stimulating and supportive environment in which people can grow.

Education

They provide – in its widest sense – education. This includes providing knowledge, wisdom and models that people can use to achieve positive results.

Enablement

They provide practical tools that enable people to shape their futures and achieve ongoing success.

Enforcement

They provide protection. They are prepared to act as enforcers and protect the environment from those who want to spoil it for others.

When doing this, they go back to the original explanation they gave about the culture. They say something like:

Let’s go back to the original contract regarding the culture that is required to ensure the project succeeds.

The goals of the project are …

The guidelines we encourage people to follow to achieve the goals are …

The reasons for encouraging people to follow these guidelines are …

Let me know if you would like to follow these guidelines and make a positive contribution to the culture.

Encouragers love to create a supportive environment. They often embody the qualities of good educators and enable people to shape their future lives. When necessary, they are also prepared to protect the environment for those who want to develop.

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to create an encouraging environment? You may aim to do this as a friend, parent, educator, managers, leader or whatever. How can you make this happen in your own way?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to create an encouraging environment.

Describe the specific things that you can do then to create the encouraging environment.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of you creating the encouraging environment.

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