This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Effective Leadership, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
Success is never a one-person job. If we want our team to be successful, we must advocate for them. Advocating for others directly increases self-confidence and their ability to perform at the peak performance levels necessary to increase their success, and the success of the team. To follow are eight ways to advocate and contribute to others.
To advocate for another, we must acknowledge their dignity, their worth and their value as a human being. So often we turn people into “things.” We label them as this or that, and neglect to treat them as a human being. We cannot connect with a person we treat as an “it” or a “thing” because we depersonalize or minimize them down to a label. To effectively advocate for others, we must work to encounter them as people of worth, interest and significance. When we acknowledge the dignity and worth of another, we are seeing them. To advocate, we must acknowledge others for who they are in the world, for what they do, and to tell them why what they do and who they are matters. This creates motivation.
There is nothing more connecting than to recognize another person through appropriate physical touch, direct eye contact and attentiveness. When we use light touch, we tell others they are worthy, likeable and valuable. Most people are so tied into their phones and other electronic devices that they and we spend less and less time engaging in face-to-face interactions. It’s important to shake hands or hug, and to have a moment of real human-to-human interaction. When we touch another person, we advocate for them through the stimulation of the mood hormones that create bonding and trust. When touch is appropriate, we make others feel special.
To advocate for others, we have to look beyond ourselves. We must objectively listen to and observe others to determine what is in their best interest. To advocate we must not criticize, judge or invalidate; instead we should focus on guiding, brainstorming, and exploring possibilities. When we operate in this way, it allows us to advise others according to their desires, not our own. Advice coming from a selfish agenda is not good advice at all because it is no longer about being of service to another; it is more about using another person to meet our own agendas. Advocating means we want and desire for people to reach for and achieve the goals they come up with.
The most outstanding results, to come from any endeavor, are born from a solid foundation of feeling and being supported. To provide support, we need to advocate for people in three simple ways; people need to feel heard, valued and understood. When someone comes to us, we are not there to fix or solve their problems, we are there to hold the space for them to vent, be in fear, and express their more reactive or worried emotions. When in that space, we must hold the belief for them that all will be okay when they cannot hold that belief for themselves. Being supportive means we act as a net. We must encourage others into their own self-reflection by asking them questions that will help them to find their own answers. When we do this, others feel they can be in our presence and be supported to find themselves, amidst their own imperfections without humiliation.
Great success comes from coaching others to achieve their dreams. As we contribute to others in their success, we also achieve our own. Goals are a shared experience. Thing about it, every great athlete has a coach. Power lifters are able to lift heavier weights when they have a spotter. Every person driven towards success would do best to have a coach, a therapist, a mentor or all of the above to guide and support them in living out their oersonal and professional goals. When we coach others, we advocate for their success, and from this they develop the tough-mindedness to go out in the world and do their best. When the person or people we advocate for have missteps, they have someone in their corner to support and coach them, with improved strategies, to push them back out there to conquer their goals.
Advocating for others comes from holding a deep and genuine belief in who they are and what they are capable of achieving. When we give this, and the other person trusts our belief in them, they will live up to the beliefs we hold to show us (and themselves) they are as capable as we believe. Success doesn’t come from putting another down to get them to fight to prove us wrong. Success is better sustained when we advocate for people to prove our belief in them to be real, valid and correct. When we deeply support, believe in and advocate for others, they become more resilient. We must advocate for people to see their talents, their skills and their potentials. Advocating for others serves to lifts their spirts. When spirits are high, people are better able to handle stress and conflict.
People naturally live up or down to expectations. When we hold high, reachable expectations of others, they will reach as far and as wide as they must to live up to what we expect. High expectations covertly communicate to others that we believe in their abilities. Our expectations naturally push them out of their comfort zones, causing them to become curious about what they are really capable of achieving. In advocating for others, we increase their self-belief to see the possible realities that could come from living up to what is expected of them. Their curiosity, backed by our support and belief, influence them so deeply they naturally begin to test the edges of their fears and begin to rise above them.
Each person suffers from differing amounts of negative self-talk. We must learn to reframe another person’s negative attitude from one of lack to an attitude of possibility. The most important way to advocate for others is to focus on solutions to problems, rather than on all the problems with the problem. Moving forward from a problem-focused mindset, only creates more problems. As we reframe another’s negative self-talk, we model new ways for them to be in relationship with themselves. We must advocate for them to understand that every “no” takes them closer to their “yes.” In doing this, we inspire them to see the valid reasons for staying in the grind when frustrations seem to be taking over. The belief we advocate is never to accept “no” for an answer, and to say “yes” to new things. There is never really a “no” because there is always another way to get to the same goal.
People grow in immeasurable ways when there is a community of support behind them, even if that is a community of two. We must cheer people on, advocate for them, recommend them to others and acknowledge them publicly. We all need people in our corner to advocate for our growth and success. Advocating for others has the reciprocal effect of increasing our own sense of personal well-being and levels of success.
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