November 24, 2017

The Top Five Books for Managers #4: Encouraging the Heart

Encouraging the Heart Book cover
The Top Five Books for Managers #4: Encouraging the Heart

This article is the fourth in a series of five blog posts from management expert, and Cydcor Chief People Officer, Jeannie Finkel. In this series, Jeannie recommends the Top Five Books she believes can help you transform your management style and become a better, more effective leader.

What really motivates people? What is that drives people to do their best work and be the most effective version of themselves? As a manager and leader, it pays to not just be able to confidently answer these questions but to lead in a way that inspires and fosters that passion to execute. While we all work to earn money, there are myriad rewards and benefits of a career that go far beyond monetary needs, and leaders who understand how to encourage employees and feed their emotional needs as well, have the opportunity to unlock hidden talents and potential – the kind that only emerge when employees love what they do.

Leaders who understand how to encourage employees, have the opportunity to unlock hidden potential. Share on X

Below Jeannie Finkel recommends the book Encouraging the Heart by James Kouzes and Barry Posner to any manager looking to motivate his or her employees and help team members reach their potential through encouragement and inspiring leadership.


Book #4 Encouraging the Heart

Author: James Kouzes & Barry Posner

Short summary: This is a wonderful book about the art of rewarding and recognizing others, that opens up a world of possibilities beyond just monetary rewards. The book helps us explore what really motivates people and makes them feel appreciated.  The authors are best known for their major works on leadership. First was The Leadership Challenge, published in 1987, and the associated leadership development program and assessment instrument they created, used by major multinational companies. The second was Credibility, which examines what makes leaders credible, based on years of research.  This book is based on one of the “5 Leadership Practices” identified in The Leadership Challenge, and it’s the only one the authors chose to build out in such detail.  Kouzes and Posner recognize that one of the hardest, but most vital, things for leaders to do is excel in meeting those basic needs we all have: to be respected for who we are and recognized for what we do. This book is a “how to” manual that will help and inspire you to become great at not just meeting those needs but also unleashing truly high performance and commitment.

What you’ll learn: As with the other Kouzes and Posner books, this one starts with some foundational research, principles, and introspection. You’ll take a self-test to see how you score on the “Encouragement Index” (and might learn, to your dismay, that you’re not as good at this as you could be!). The bulk of the book takes you through the “7 Essentials of Encouraging the Heart:  Set Clear Standards; Expect the Best; Pay Attention; Personalize Recognition; Tell the Story; Celebrate Together; and Set the Example.”

In the concluding section, the authors revisit introspection, with a few thought-provoking pages on “Finding Your Voice”. And finally, they provide 150 suggestions for ways to get started!

Why it’s a must read: Honestly, all three of Kouzes and Barry Posner’s books should be read by anyone who aspires to be a leader. This one, in particular, is special because it speaks to those basic needs we all have, and what we hope we will experience from this thing called “work”. As the authors say, “To us, leadership is everyone’s business. Leadership is not about a position or a place. It’s an attitude and a sense of responsibility for making a difference.” Anyone who has to work with others to get things done can benefit from the wisdom and wealth of practical suggestions in this small volume. If we put them into practice, we can make our workplace a better place…and hopefully a BEST place!

If you found this book recommendation valuable, check back to read the upcoming and final post in this series. These books can help you become the kind of leader who inspires the passion, drive, and innovation necessary for organizations to produce extraordinary results. In case you missed it, don’t forget to read last week’s post about the book Leadership is an Art.  


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portrait of Jeanie Finkel, Chief People Officer at Cydcor.
Jeannie Finkel, Chief People Officer at Cydcor.

Jeannie Finkel, Chief People Officer at Cydcor, the recognized leader in outsourced sales, has more than twenty-five years of business experience, managing human resources and administration at top firms. Jeannie served for nearly twelve years as a Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Charles Schwab & Co. Jeannie was also Head of Human Resources and Administration for a leading asset management firm, and served as Managing Director, Talent Management Systems and Strategies for a Fortune 100 organization. Jeannie later became a Partner with leading global retained search firm, Heidrick & Struggles. With years of experience managing teams and overseeing organizations, Jeannie is a seasoned expert in management, administration, and leadership.