Business leaders focused on moving their companies to ever-higher levels of efficiency, effectiveness, profitability, and success are always looking for ways to improve. Achieving this objective requires a discerning awareness of what is — and isn’t — working.
There’s a potential pitfall here, however, if leaders focus only on what they deem is wrong. This approach might lead to some improvements and short-term results, but could over time damage other vital aspects of the business. Given their singular focus and accompanying astigmatism, these leaders will fail to see all that’s been achieved, the solid effort team members put forth, and just how far the business has progressed.
With their abundance of criticism and lack of praise, these leaders will squash the morale of their team members. Team members will in turn grow less excited about being a part of and furthering the company mission. Top performers will likely move on. This will damage the very efficiency, effectiveness, profitability, and success that’s desired.
Conversely, when leaders offer well-deserved and genuine recognition to team members while also working to enhance how the company operates, a solid culture is built and the benefits ripple throughout the business. Why? Because when people feel good — even great — about the positive steps they’re taking and the work they’re doing, they’re encouraged to stay the course. To test this, consider how great and motivating it feels when you receive praise for your efforts.
Most people thrive on praise and enjoy some form of recognition. When a person is praised for a job well done, they feel good, valued, and inspired to keep up the good work. They light up and get excited, which is apparent in their body language. When this happens repeatedly, they grow more self-confident, take on challenges with greater initiative and passion and become more adept at whatever they’re doing. In other words, they’re motivated to learn, grow and become more.
When a person truly gives their best and is met with only criticism in the form of what they did wrong and what they should have done better, they feel defeated, inadequate and undervalued. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a situation like this, you know how unpleasant this experience is and how that’s compounded when the behavior is repeated. This is called negative conditioning, and it commonly leads to diminished self-confidence, negative self-perception, resentment, disengagement, lower performance and turnover.
The desire to feel good about ourselves and the efforts we put forth is a very real human need. As a leader, it’s wise to get a firm grasp on this fact and change your perspective and behavior to consistently offer the praise and recognition your team members appreciate and need to continue advancing. Positive reinforcement offers a far more effective leadership strategy than negative conditioning.
As I coach leaders how to lead from a position of composure and with a balanced perspective, they work with their teams in new, dynamic, and more effective ways. They build empowered teams that produce the results they want to achieve.
When the team members in any business are supported in constructive ways — both for jobs well done and in those areas in which they’re in the process of improvement — they’ll typically perform at higher levels simply because they feel valued and encouraged in their efforts to do their best. When you give others what they want, they’re more likely to give you what you want, and everyone is happier.
In your pursuit of a finely tuned business and success, don’t forget to consistently give the well-deserved and genuine praise and recognition your team members need to learn, grow and become top performers.
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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper. Access the article here.