Effective leaders treat others with a positive regard. Specifically, effective leaders understand the power of appreciation. This goes beyond the Carnegie precepts of “Be hardy in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
Effective praise is a skill set that must be learned like any other. As leaders we often find ourselves spending and inordinate amount of time identifying what is wrong, identifying mistakes, and concentrating on errors. Effective leaders look for opportunities to find people doing things right and offer them the encouragement they need to keep on doing things right.
According to Dr. Ben Bissell there are five things a leader can do to insure their statements of praise are effective.
Make sure the praise is authentic. Authentic does not mean it must be a tremendous accomplishment. It does mean it has to be honest. You don’t need to wait until your friend has finished a marathon to offer praise. In fact it may be more effective to acknowledge when he has reached a two mile goal.
Make sure the praise is specific. Acknowledging the excellent way in which an irate client was handled is an excellent example. Identify areas of strength and acknowledge them.
Make sure the praise is immediate. Providing positive feed back as soon as things happen is a powerful tool to encourage them to happen again.
Make sure the praise is untainted. Tainted praise has an ulterior motive. Tainted praise often has the addendum “but” attached.
Make sure the praise is private. Recognizing someone in public is often more a performance by the speaker rather than support for the subject of the praise.
How ever you elect to reinforce others it is important that you do so on a regular basis.