The gift of discouragement is not listed among the gifts in the Bible, but plenty of people seem to exercise it.

Parents exercise it with their kids. Spouses exercise it with each other. Bosses exercise it with their employees. Coaches exercise it with their players.

I have been around a long time (80 years to be exact) and in leadership for a long time (52 years to be exact) and I have never met a person who complained that they were encouraged too much.

I don’t understand why some leaders have such a difficult time extending (and doing it often) words of encouragement…in a note, in person or in a public meeting where it goes a long way toward building team morale, increasing personal productivity and honors Jesus!

Most of us know that…

CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer

CFO stands for Chief Financial Officer

COO stands for Chief Operating Officer

But here’s one you may not have heard of.

I’ve never met a person who felt they were encouraged too much!

CCO stands for Chief Carrot Officer. 

Chief Carrot officer? What the heck is that?

Actually CCO doesn’t exist in the company’s list of officers, but stands more for a need that every group/organization has, and a need that any person can intentionally address.

The concept of CCO stems from the idea of motivating people with a carrot (positive), rather than motivating them with a stick (negative.)

The imagery is that of holding a carrot in front of a horse to get him to move instead of hitting the horse with a stick to get him to move.

In actuality, you can divide leaders (business, sports, military, church) into two broad categories: those who use positive means and those who use negative means to motivate their followers. You don’t have to be a genius to know which one is the better of the two. 

A pat on the back goes a lot further than a kick in the pants.

Now, I’m not saying you never need to have the tough talk with somebody and do a little confrontation when behavior or performance is not what it needs to be.

I am saying that, as a general principle, many, if not most, people need more positive reinforcement than negative confrontation to motivate them.

Recently I ran across Acts 20:2 in The Message: “Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he (Paul) gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.” Paul was functioning as the CCO at this point. These three ideas immediately became a focus for prayer in my leadership:

  • Giving constant encouragement,
  • Lifting spirits,
  • Charging people with fresh hope,

I’ll be the first one to admit, and confess, that I am guilty of spending more time looking for something wrong and confronting, rather than looking for something right and encouraging. With His help, I want to spend more time catching people doing something right–and pointing it out, both privately and publically, rather than trying to catch them doing something wrong!

Check out this book on becoming a Chief Carrot Officer.

Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree

In closing, here are two questions to personally ponder:

  1. Are you a carrot leader or a stick leader?
  2. What would it look like for you to wear the hat of Chief Carrot Officer in your team, organization or church?