As I wrote in a blog entry in April, through the years I have noted a number of “rules” of leadership. One of those concerns the issue of praise. I believe a good leader always looks for behavior to applaud and then does so, and loudly.
This idea was reinforced recently in a book a friend recommended, entitled: “O Great One! A little story about the Awesome Power of Recognition,” written by David Novak and, and his writing partner, Christa Bourg. Novak’s credentials are impressive. He served as CEO of Yum Brands and before that Chief Operating Officer of Pepsi-Cola North America. And the book, while written as a story simple enough for a child to read, is powerful in its application.
Basically, my rule of applause and Novak’s book acknowledge the same fact. People respond to praise. I would go further and say that once the compensation issue between a leader and his teammate is out of the way, nothing is more important in motivating people than recognition and praise. In fact, what is compensation but recognition of one’s contribution to the organization?
At the end of his book, Novak lists ten principles to govern how one should manage praise. Not wanting to violate a copyright, I won’t list them here. What I will say is that singling out someone who has done something particularly well in your organization, complimenting them for that accomplishment, and letting others know about it or even share in the congratulations is one of the most effective ways I know to make people feel proud of where they work and what they do. It is one of the best ways to ensure loyalty. And it is one of the best ways to motivate others on the team.
As one reflects on running an organization, or perhaps even on one’s role in a family or on a team, this seems like such an unnecessary rule until one has the opportunity, if that’s what it’s called, to work for someone who doesn’t know how or is unwilling to pay a compliment. People work for praise. Beyond a certain level, money is almost always secondary.