To Inspire People Believe in Them

Leaders, listen up, it’s time to stop telling and start empowering!

Justine McGrath


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is, but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” Goethe.

Ever had someone who truly believes in you? It’s quite something, isn’t it? My father believed in me. Always. He may not have agreed with all my decisions and he certainly didn’t agree with me when I would give up on something, but he always made me feel that he believed in me 100%.

The effect of this was that all I ever wanted to do my whole life was to make him proud. He died in 2014 and I still live my life wanting to make him proud.

That is what believing in someone does for them. I never had a boss or an employer who I felt truly believed in me which probably explains why I have been self-employed for the last twenty years. I learned quickly that if they weren’t going to believe in me then I would do it for myself and not them.

There is a counselling concept called Motivational Interviewing that was developed by clinical psychologists William Miller and Stephen Rollnick. In one of their books entitled ‘Motivational Interviewing in Health Care. Helping patients change behaviour,’ they discuss the acronym DARN. This stands for

Desire — what they want to change

Ability — how they could do it.

Reasons — why they want to change

Need — how important it is to them.

When you use this acronym along with empathetic listening, it’s a great way to help someone believe in themself and develop motivation. Essentially you are touching upon a person’s values and what matters most to them.

What managers and leaders often don’t realize is the power of facilitating a person to develop their own motivation instead of telling them what to do. There’s a big difference. It’s about drawing out their own intrinsic motivation and that happens when you ask people about what’s important to them and you listen deeply.

I am currently working with a writing coach on a specific project. She is great at this. I always come away from our sessions feeling empowered and highly motivated. That’s the sign of a good leader. She believes in me and that belief both encourages me and inspires me to keep going.

Empowering others is such a powerful motivator and I always wonder why managers are so quick to criticize and rarely use praise or help the employee develop their own self-belief.

If you would like to motivate someone, try listening deeply, encouraging, and believing in the person. They will usually live up to your expectations.



Justine McGrath

ICF certified Executive Coach. Specialist in EI. Author ‘Conversations with my Father — Jack Kyle,’ and ‘The Elephant Crossing.’