I suggested that she should look to use recognition more. To thank her team for the work they did, tell them a good job. Even doing this for small tasks as positive recognition will get them feeling good about themselves and looking to see what else they could do in order to keep getting more recognition.
My client said she had started to do that with one of the team, someone who was really undervalued and underestimated, but who was really a great worker; it was just that his communication skills were not so great.
She said that she had started to give him positive feedback as well as look to support him by helping with training on his communication skills. She said that the impact of the recognition and the support had made his team member really grateful and that now he was looking for ways to improve even further.
I told my client that this was the power of recognition and that she was now becoming a better leader, a good leader, and that what we needed to do was to see what to move her from good to great.
My client immediately smiled, and she asked, "So you think I am a good leader?". I said, "Yes absolutely, you have already inspired one member of your team through you actions and support, and inspiring people is what good leaders do."
She smiled, and I could see she was very content with this news.
Then she pronounced, 'I never thought I could be a good leader, but now that I see its possible, I will set my target to be a great leader, this is my new vision, why not.'
A small piece of positive feedback changed her opinion of himself and what she thought was capable of.
We had cracked a self-limiting belief, that she couldn't be a great leader, and we had done it with just a few small positive words.
She still has a long way to go, but at least she is now prepared to start the journey and start it with the belief that it could be successful.
This is the power of recognition, of positive feedback.
I am always surprised when it is frowned upon to give people too much positive feedback or people tell me; we should only give positive feedback for excellent results.
My belief is counter to this; I believe that we get excellent results because we start to give positive feedback early on, we need to do that in order to get people to start the journey towards success, not just recognize them for achieving success. That's not leadership.
I know we need to be careful not to over do it and create complacency, but not over doing it, is not the same as not doing it.
If we wait until people are half way there towards success before we provide positive feedback, then many will not even begin the journey.
As leaders, it is our job to get as many people as possible to start the journey, and we do this by creating inspiring visions and providing positive feedback and recognition at the earliest stages.
Recognition is one of the most powerful tools we have, and we should look to use it lavishly, rather than sparingly.
In my experience, the amount of success achieved is proportional to the amount of recognition provided. If you only provide a little at the end when people have been successful, then you will have very little success.
The purpose of recognition is not about recognizing the job that people have just done; it's about encouraging them for the great job that they are going to do.
Just like my client, the point of the recognition was to get him to change her goal, to get her to think about becoming a great leader, and to start that journey.
Don't save your best weapon until it's too late, use it early and often and reap the benefits of a successful organization with a winning culture.