There is often a negative stereotype about cheerleaders being vapid air heads who say nice things in order to quell rebellion and discontent in the ranks. “Go team!” Most people can see through mindless parroting of a company’s party line and just ignore it. A more authentic and integrated role of cheerleader however, when properly exercised is undervalued in most work situations.
At a recent cookout Mark, the host’s brother-in-law was bringing me up to date about his company. He spoke of cutbacks and the usual struggles of a smaller consulting firm. He was happy about being kept on as one of the senior members of the team.
Mark has the gift of being an intelligent cheerleader, not just for the sake of management, but primarily to serve the needs of the individuals with whom he works, particularly the junior members who do not have the history or experience he has. He noted that he’s gratified to be able to assist others when they get stuck, either in a project or in an attitude. He’s aware of the need to express a positive, yet realistic perspective and by doing so brings up the communication and productivity of everyone else.
This kind of cheerleader, far from being a shill for management, is actually a necessary bridge between management and staff. Showing genuine care for one another as persons, without getting into a lot of personal discussion and without playing politics, is key to a successful cheerleader at work, and therefore, to a successful company. A company that arbitrarily lets go of senior members just to save money may actually be sabotaging itself by getting rid of its most effective cheerleaders.
Who are the cheerleaders among your fellow workers? What makes their encouraging spirit successful for you? How might you imitate them to become a valuable part of the ongoing development of your fellow employees?
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