No one you lead wakes up and says to themselves, “I can’t wait to disappoint my leader today.” Starting from the viewpoint that everyone is trying to do the best they can is a game-changer for leaders who set a high bar. It puts everyone at ease and allows leaders to objectively examine their role in helping others to achieve their goals.
Looking for ways to support, encourage, and make people better is what leadership is all about. We too often get stuck in the negative spiral of seeing less than stellar performance and immediately attribute it to a lack of effort or discipline. The truth is, people more commonly underperform because they lack clarity of what counts as success, or they don’t have the requisite skills to perform at the highest level. Even when it’s not the case, making this presumption is the healthy choice for leaders, as many times such issues speak to your leadership and not a person's attitude or effort. It creates a positive vibe the best performers feel and feed off of.
Don’t fall prey to the trap of suspicion regarding work ethic. Presume people show up and will work hard to impress everyone with their efforts and outcomes. Treat people in accordance with this attitude, and you will find that everyone has more confidence to do the best they can.
When the best leaders establish a supportive climate, it motivates team members to show up prepared to succeed. You’ll find people work harder when they know you think they will.