Building Self-esteem is Good for Business

by Jeff Haltrecht

Ever notice that on some days when you get up in the morning, you are full of energy, confidence, and disciplined thought and the day seems to go your way. You successfully influence people, you win business, and you feel good.

Then on other days you wake up 'on the wrong side of the bed'. Things don't go so well at the presentation you made to the client and you blame someone or something for it.

This is your self-esteem talking and you better be listening. Self-esteem is how good you feel about yourself. The better you feel, the more value you believe you can contribute, the more successful you become.

Consider self-esteem as the initial leadership building block in yourself, and likewise in your people. Those with self-esteem take risks, achieve lofty goals, and have a higher level of personal satisfaction. Those with low self-esteem carry a negative attitude, are discontent with life, and under achieve.

A key role as a leader in your organization is to bring out the highest level of self-esteem possible within your people. This is achieved by helping them set goals, coaching them through the hard work until they attain success, and then rewarding their efforts.

Here are 5 steps that previously low self-esteem employees go through, with the help of their manager, to get the momentum rolling in the new direction. They sound repetitive and that's the point. The more they experience winning, the higher the self-esteem, the more predictable the results.

1. Stop making excuses and blaming others for lack of success
2. Set a small goal, change behaviour and work really hard to attain, reward results
3. Immediately set a higher goal, increase the work ethic, reward again
4. Mentally visualize achieving the goal and picture how hard & smart they are working
5. Set an even higher goal, push even harder to the level envisioned, attain and reward

With each small increment of success, comes an increase in the belief that they can do it, which in-turn builds their self-esteem. As their manager, you are responsible for helping set tough and attainable goals, encouraging progress, and holding them accountable to their commitments.

The key here is to understand your employees and what motivates them. Each person is different - What do they want? What are their goals? How do they like being rewarded? How hard do they need to be pushed? The more you know about what drives each person, the easier it is for you to motivate him/her.

In his book 'Success Is a Choice', Rick Pitino (NCAA basketball coach) lays out 5 rules to building self-esteem in your people.

1. Help each person see him/herself as having a significant role, no matter what it might be. Each person has to understand that he or she is essential to the group's success and that it's the sum of all the parts that make up the whole.
2. Create significance for the group, whether it's an organization, a team, or a company. Each member must feel he/she is a part of something important, and not just putting in time.
3. Maintain positive reinforcement for the effort people are giving. Always let them know you are aware of it and how much you appreciate it.
4. Recognize the people who get less attention in the group because they're not in the glamorous positions. Thank them publicly for their unselfishness, and do it in front of their peers. That is their share of the limelight.
5. Never forget that it's imperative to keep people positive, because those who are discontented have the potential to negatively infect others. We've all heard the saying 'one bad apple spoils the bunch'.

To win, your employees must be deserving of victory. It's the combination of a strong work ethic, demanding more of themselves, and the belief that they can be their best. You play a critical role in building this belief and instilling in them a discipline of winning. It's great for them and good for your business.

Jeff Haltrecht is a principal Leadership Coach at the Polaris Leadership Academy and the Facilitator of the Polaris Alumni; he is a regular contributor to Polaris Digest