September 11, 2020


Encouraging the Heart

Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education. 


My favorite resource to use when teaching leadership is The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. The real-life stories are relatable; the tips are useful and insightful; and the practices taught align to any leadership role. This EmpowerED 3.2.1 takes leadership practice five and deconstructs its components and supports them with resources from other industries, especially education. 


3 Big Ideas

    1. Recognize Contributions.
      So, when was the last time you recognized someone for a job well done? What did you say and do? This leadership practice is one that matters to us all. I learned a new acronym, PNR (positive to negative ratio), while learning how to encourage the heart. It comes from How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton. Their research shows that people who engage in at least three positive interactions for every negative interaction tend to be more effective and productive than those who have a lower ratio of positive interactions. You might not have control over how many positive versus negative interactions others initiate, but you certainly have control over the ratio of positive interactions you initiate.
    2. Celebrate Values and Victories.
      Right now, take a sheet of paper and make three columns. Label the columns name, action, timing. Think of several individuals who should be recognized or acknowledged. Write their name. After their name, jot a note to remind you of the specific action and value you want to acknowledge. Last, note a time or setting in which you will offer your recognition. Here’s an activity to illustrate the power of encouraging the heart.

      Step 1: Use a sheet of paper to answer these questions without using the internet or a friend.

      • Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
      • Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
      • Name the last five winners of the Miss America Pageant.
      • Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
      • Name the last six Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
      • Name the World Series winners for each of the last ten years.

      Step 2: Now, answer the questions below.

      • List a few teachers who aid your journey through school.
      • List three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
      • Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
      • Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
      • Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
    3. Make Connection Count.
      Build a strong spirit of connection and community by doing these six things. People who feel connected are more likely to work hard and have a deeper commitment to the organization.

      • Praise people for a job well done.
      • Make it a point to let people know about your confidence in their abilities.
      • Make sure that people are creatively recognized for their contributions to the success of projects.
      • Publicly recognize people who exemplify a commitment to shared values.
      • Tell stories of encouragement about the good work of others.
      • Get personally involved in recognizing people and celebrating accomplishments.

      Many equate recognition with simply saying “thank you,” But real recognition comes from the heart and often packs a strong emotional punch. It makes the recipient feel good, giving them a lift when they need it. Many movies provide examples and connections that can inspire us. While the three links listed below contain quite a few marketing ads, they also provide valuable lists and clips of movie scenes that represent Kouzes and Posner’s recommended leadership  practices.
      85 Movie Scenes Which Highlight Great Leadership
      The Top Ten Leadership Movies
      Seven Extraordinary Examples of Recognition

      My Just ASK colleague Bruce Oliver provides insights from a principal’s perspective in a Just for the ASKing! issue titled “It’s All About Relationships.”


“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”
– Booker T. Washington


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 Question

What is the impact on your productivity and your morale when
someone does or says something that makes you feel powerful?



About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.










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