The Encouragement, Educator, Enablement And Enforcement Approach

Encouragers sometimes act as both the creators and custodians of a culture. They are caring but that does not mean they are a soft touch.

Such people often combine elements that, at first sight, may seem contradictory. They balance encouragement, education, enablement and enforcement.

Encouragers are like good gardeners. They like to create an environment that enables people to grow. They do this when acting as parents, teachers, coaches, leaders or in another role

They focus on encouragement first but, when appropriate, they are prepared to enforce certain agreed standards. They do this if people do not respect the environment or hurt other people.

Encouragers then act as custodians of a culture. Let’s explore one model they follow when, for example, leading an organisation.

Explaining The Approach

Good leaders start by explaining the culture to people before they join. They outline the following themes.

They explain the organisation’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

They explain the reasons for the principles and also the benefits – to all the various stakeholders – of achieving the picture of success.

They explain how people can follow the principles – together with examples to bring these to life – and do their best to achieve the picture of success.

The person is invited to reflect and decide if they want to opt into contributing to the culture. If so, they then make clear contracts about their best contribution towards achieving the goals.

Encouragers often pursue the following guidelines for creating and maintaining a positive environment.


They provide encouragement. They also aim to create a stimulating and supportive environment in which people can grow.


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


They make clear contracts with people about their contributions towards achieving the goals. They manage outcomes rather than tasks and enable people to deliver the goods.


They are custodians of the culture and protect the environment from those who want to spoil it for others. When acting as custodians, they meet with a person who is causing difficulties. They may then say something along the following lines.

“Let’s go back to the original contract regarding the standards that are required to deliver success.

“The organisation’s purpose, principles and picture of success is … The reasons for the principles are …

“Let me know if you would like to follow these principles and make a positive contribution to achieving the picture of success.”

Good leaders make it clear about the required standards. It is then up to the person to decide if they want to contribute. If not, that is their choice and there are consequences.

Imagine you lead a team. How would you rate yourself in areas of being an encourager, educator, enabler and enforcer?

Being An Encourager

How good are you at creating a positive environment? How good are you at helping people to build on their strengths?

How good are you at coordinating people’s strengths to do superb work and deliver success? You may have a coordinator who makes this happen, but you are still accountable for ensuring it does.

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

Being An Educator

Different leaders educate people in different ways. They may act as good models, coaches or trusted advisors. What is your preferred way of educating the people in your team?

How good are you at explaining the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success? How good are you at sharing success stories that show how people are following the principles?

How good are you at encouraging people to focus on their self-development? How good are you at ensuring they keep focusing on: a) what they are doing well; b) what they can do better and how? How good are you at passing on practical tools that they can use to keep developing?

Being An Enabler

Good leaders enable people to make their best contributions. One approach is to manage by outcomes rather than by tasks. This sometimes involves the leader taking the following steps.

They explain the big picture, the piece of work to be done and the specific outcomes to achieve.

They make clear contracts with the person about the outcomes they will deliver and the support they need.

They then give the person freedom – within parameters – regarding how they deliver the outcomes.

If you wish, try completing the following sentences.

Being An Enforcer

This can be the tricky part. Some leaders are happy to encourage and educate others, but they may find it hard to deal with people who step over the line. One person expressed this in the following way.

“I score highly in the other areas, probably around 8/10 on each of these. But I have difficulty with the enforcement part, where I score 6/10.”

Good leaders see themselves as custodians of the culture rather than as bad cops. As mentioned earlier, they continually explain the purpose, principles and picture of success.

They are prepared to act to safeguard the environment, however, if some people want to spoil it for others. One leader said they actually welcomes such situations. They explained this in the following way.

“My job is to maintain high standards in the organisation. Sometimes this involves sharing success stories to show those we want to uphold. Sometimes it involves taking action to make sure the standards do not slip. This is something I am happy to do.

“My approach is to explain the professional standards we want people to follow to achieve the goals. It is also to explain the reasons for these standards.

“It is then up to the person whether they want to follow these standards. If not, then I find people who are prepared to contribute towards achieving the goals.”

There are many ways to help people. Sometimes this involves balancing encouraging, educating, enabling and, when appropriate, enforcing certain standards.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. How would you rate yourself as an enforcer in terms of protecting the culture in your team? Rate yourself on a scale 0-10.

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