A Little Validation Goes A Long Way


Validation gives the people around you - those you influence - a sense of worth. Now mind you, as leaders we are not responsible for the self-worth of those we lead. However, we must acknowledge and act on the reality that we have the privilege of reflecting back to those in our inner circles the merit of their presence. 

Unfortunately, in my experience working with people, validation is so often confused with agreement. If I say, "you've put a lot of hard work into this" when I'm not keen on the outcome, I have a fear the other person is hearing "you did a great job!" So, instead I focus on the deficiencies, the failures, the places where my expectations haven't been met. Oh the so easy shift to me focus verses other focus. 

Do you know what the most common theme is among my clients when asked the question, "What's been most transformative for you in our work together?" Almost without fail they respond with "you've heard my concerns and validated my experiences." Sure, the problem-solver in me cringes a bit when the #1 answer isn't "you've helped me conquer what I thought was an insurmountable goal!" Yet, with pause, I realize that is overcoming an obstacle. 

Being seen and heard, the foundation of validation, is a remarkable motivator. Think about it. In your moments of greatest security, what is one of the key conditions you encountered? Chances are it's a sense of validation - of worthiness. 

So give it a shot. In your steps to be a leader who moves with intentionality, increase your validation vocabulary. Working on acknowledging what you see - hard work, creative thinking, persistence, attempts at change. Sometimes you might have to think or look a bit deeper; directing your eyes and engaging your focus to what's below the surface.

Deb Gorton