How to be a Chief Encouragement Officer

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Light Your World
How to be a Chief Encouragement Officer

If you hear any version of these statements on a regular basis, you may be a Chief Encouragement Officer.

  • “I need to hang around you more often.”
  • “You are the most positive person.”
  • “You encourage my heart.”

Empowerment, hope, encouragement – all connected

Empowerment is one of my favorite topics. Recently I realized that there are some particularly important requirements to feel empowered. To behave in an empowered way requires confidence. It’s like a little path. In order to gain confidence you have to at least feel hope and encouragement. Encouragement was the big ah-ha for me. I don’t think we can receive or offer enough encouragement.

“The finest gift you can give anyone is encouragement. Yet, almost no one gets the encouragement they need to grow to their full potential. If everyone received the encouragement they need to grow, the genius in most everyone would blossom and the world would produce abundance beyond the wildest dreams.” – Sidney Madwed

You can’t give what you don’t have

Early in my career, I was competing unnecessarily with the women I worked with. I felt uneasy about it. When I dived into it I understood, first, there was enough for everybody. Secondly, competing negatively brought us all down, including me. I wanted to eliminate the destructiveness. I wanted to be uplifted and uplifting.

About that time I was reading a book of wisdom. It stated the only thing lacking in any situation is what you are not giving. That got my attention. I started noticing myself mentally commenting when someone showed noteworthy skills or actions. Then I started voicing my observations. Why don’t we do that more often?

I once asked someone what held her back from recognizing others more. She said she didn’t want to indulge them. That’s an interesting take on encouragement. I wondered what she said to herself when it came to assessing her own skills, abilities and actions.

I was coaching an employee on writing his performance appraisal. He could not use the word “I” when describing his accomplishments. This might seem like a small thing. Yet it pointed to discomfort with owning his gifts. He told me it felt like bragging. I understand. In reality, it is simply stating facts.

Affirm your skills, abilities and accomplishments with humble confidence. Then you can more comfortably become an encouragement machine.

Qualifications to be a Chief Encouragement Officer

It’s not about superficialities. The other day I told a woman that I could tell she put a lot of thought into her outfit. That’s more meaningful than saying, “Nice outfit.” She told me that comment gave her confidence, as she was going into an important meeting just then.

It’s not about compliments. It’s about noticing what is important to another person and offering a boost in that area. Encouragement can be as simple as:

  • Noticing someone is nervous about a presentation and later sharing what you learned.
  • After having observed someone in retail dealing with a difficult customer, acknowledge the skill and patience shown.
  • Helping someone recognize a skill he or she clearly takes for granted.

To be a successful Chief Encouragement Officer means you hold a positive vision for what human beings are capable of, for yourself and for others. You have an unconditional commitment to see what others do well. Just as important, you are committed to telling them. You apply this to yourself as well.

Tell me about a time when you were shown encouragement and how it made a difference to you. Or how do you encourage others in your own special way?
Photo Credit: Gratisography

About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
Speaker, coach and trainer Mary Schaefer’s expertise is in creating work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She is a former HR manager. Find out more about how Mary helps managers empower themselves to make the most of their human resources with this special collection of articles selected for LCG readers:  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John Smith  |  08 Mar 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Mary – another interesting post about a very important issue for all of us.

Let’s blame it on our parents … I know mine were always telling me not to act “uppity”, which included any outward show of talent or ability. While they were no doubt proud of me, they also came from environments (different countries, but similar backgrounds) where people were expected to fit in quietly and not make waves or draw attention to themselves.

Genetics won in my case and I have spent much of my life craving the attention and reinforcement that they thought improper.

Let’s also blame the “coaching mode” of some where cheerleading and empty slogans are substituted for specific and clear feedback. I believe that even when helping someone improve, you can be encouraging, when you choose your words to help them learn, rather than punish them for doing wrong.

Of course, we ultimately cannot blame anyone or anything else, since we exercise complete control over what comes out of our mouths and how it comes out. Your point about noticing something special about a person that they might take for granted is a great example of how we ought to interact with others, rather than the nitpicky and usually negative things some of us tend to notice.

My vote for most impacting statement: “It’s not about compliments. It’s about noticing what is important to another person and offering a boost in that area.”

Really liked this whole post, but that sentence above should be on posters in lunchrooms everywhere:)


Mary C. Schaefer  |  08 Mar 2016  |  Reply

Thanks so much for the commentary. You bring out some important points, Firstly, what was modeled and taught to us. It was actually a relative who told me that complimenting (for lack of a better word) was indulgent. I’m pretty sure it was that way in the house she grew up in. I distinctly remember my dad calling an arrogant man a “big-feelin’ guy.” So, indeed, at least in my Midwestern background, we were taught to be quiet and humble about our strengths.

And then the empty slogans. I meant to include a story about a boss who would stop by my office and sign off with “Good job.” One day I asked him if he could tell me specifically how I was doing a good. He was mute. I vowed that day that I would always do better than that.

“It’s not about compliments. It’s about noticing what is important to another person and offering a boost in that area.” Wow, John. Maybe I should sell that slogan to Successories. I know someone who knows the owner :)

Thanks again for your always thoughtful response.

Mary Brodie  |  30 Oct 2016  |  Reply

I love this! There definitely needs to be more encouragement in the world and spread the positivity around. I’ve found that those few words can make a world of difference for someone to give a presentation or start a project he or she has been procrastinating on. I also love that you mention competition. I was so caught in that trap as well! And it didn’t do me or anyone else any favors. When I learned that there is room for everyone to shine, and when you shine, your teammates shine, your team will shine and the company will shine – man, did that change everything for me. Now I give encouragement and complements all the time. Everyone should be boosted.

Mary C. Schaefer  |  31 Oct 2016  |  Reply

You say it well, Mary Brodie. Thanks for commenting, and spreading the Chief Encouragement Officer vibe your own self :)

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