Great leaders always choose encouragement over discouragement. That does not mean that the team and the leader never make mistakes. Of course they do. Nevertheless, great leaders have a default setting of choosing to encourage and thereby focusing on the positive instead of choosing to discourage and thereby focusing on the negative. Part of the reason this is such an important leadership quality is the intense effect it has on the team.
Jennifer Fleiss is the cofounder of Rent the Runaway. She shares an unfortunate leadership situation that did not display encouragement and the effect it had on the team (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):
“I still remember a senior executive at a large bank barking ‘Think!’ when she didn’t like my work. As a mother, she could have been a role model for young women in the finance industry. Instead, she made me feel unsure of my career.”
Leaders who choose encouragement over discouragement are the people we should seek and the people we should become.