Cheer in the Next Gear: How to Make Your Support Count post image

Each time a cyclist peddled past our corner at the Ironman triathlon , the woman sitting next to me on the curb would clang her large cowbell. No words. No sign of emotion. This went on for hours. It was almost a Pavlovian response. See bike, ring bell. She was committed. She never missed an athlete. For whom was her bell tolling? Why was this helpful?

In contrast, my husband Marcus is my cheering hero. I have run several marathons by his side, and watched him as he cheers from the inside of the race; looking to encourage anyone running behind, ahead or beside him. His cheers go something like this:

“Hey cheese head!” (quick caveat here, this greeting works best when the guy you are approaching is wearing a large styrofoam 3 cornered cheese hat). How’s it going? I’ve been watching you run and you really seem like you’re feeling strong. Have you run marathons before? What time are you going for? Oh yeah, you’re right on pace. YOU’VE GOT THIS!

He cheers the same way off the asphalt.

As leaders, how we cheer for our teams matters. When cheering is too general or lacks sincerity it can do more harm than good. It’s discounted at best, and can diminish a leader’s credibility.

How to CHEER with Impact

Whether your are cheering with a microphone in a large team context, or are encouraging someone by their side, there are specific ways to ensure your cheering is helpful.


Communicate your sincere confidence in the person or team’s ability to achieve the desired goal


Share why you know they can win. Honor specific accomplishments or characteristics that communicate your confidence and build theirs


Tap into what is energizing them about this goal, breathe your energy into that place


Draw on your own experiences to create an emotional connection


Celebrate what they’ve accomplished so far and rejoice in their wins

For whom are you CHEERING? How can you make your cheering count?
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Filed Under:   Energy & Engagement, Results & Execution
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. Her next book, Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul is being published by AMACOM this Spring.

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Lisa   |   24 May 2013   |   Reply

Nice! Discovered your post through a search for content for my Facebook page. I started my bog about supporting my husband in Ironman Triathlons. I know all about the cow bells!! Will be sharing your thoughts on how to cheer best. Thanks!!

letsgrowleaders   |   01 March 2013   |   Reply

Steve, great story. It’s so much fun to play mentoring “match maker”