My leadership approach is different. I believe that an effective leader learns how to best motivate an employee, team member, volunteer, etc., and then uses that information to help that individual succeed. And sometimes, that means a little extra praise – a pat on the back.
Stop for a moment and think back over your recent conversations with your team. Have they been filled with more demands and criticisms than with praise? If so, you may have become more focused on when people fall short, and have forgotten to acknowledge and appreciate their responsible, every day behavior.
Positive and encouraging comments – praise – build confidence and self-respect. It’s even been suggested that if bosses administered praise more often, psychologists would lose nearly all of their patients suffering from low esteem and inferiority issues. After all, a little praise makes us walk a bit taller, try a bit harder, set goals a bit higher.
This is not to suggest that honest criticism and coaching is to be avoided. But incorporating positive reinforcement into your interactions with others may be just what is needed.
So how can you start turning your negative approach into an “atta boy” or “atta girl” approach? Like many things, we can start learning a skill and practicing within our inner circle of friends and family.
Try to develop an eye for seeing what’s right about a person, rather than the opposite. Actively seek ways to express appreciation for those good traits. Most everyone values a compliment, encouragement, or a little recognition. Don’t hoard that pat on the back for a great accomplishment; make it a part of your every day interaction.
If you haven’t done this for some time, or if you’re not known for being effusive with your praise, your comments will likely be met with some skepticism. Persevere. You didn’t become known as a curmudgeon overnight, and you’re going to have to establish new habits.
I believe that we bring out the best in everyone when we learn what people need and then try to give it to them. Few things can generate more power than a pat on the back when we need it, not just when we deserve it.
Photo credit: flickr