This week I watched Rita Pierson’s powerful TED Talk about her life as an educator. Have you seen it? It’s got more than 1.5 million views. You can see it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion.html. She talks about how we all need encouragers and people who bring out the best in us. In a follow-up interview on the Ted Radio Hour on NPR, she said, “I don’t know why we celebrate failure. We think that by telling you what you didn’t do right it will inspire you to do better, but it doesn’t.” She goes on to talk about the people in our life who “insist that we recognize the excellence in ourselves.”
It is true in every area of life. Everyone needs a champion.
As leaders, we set the tone for the teams that we lead. A team that is praised by the leader for what they are doing right is in a better position to live up to what the leader believes about them.
We are more motivated to be on a team or in a job where our contributions are recognized and our strengths praised. There is tremendous power in praising people.
The opposite is true. Constantly pointing out what is wrong without balancing it with the positive, drains and demotivates people.
Think about our own leadership journey. Who were the people who meant the most to us? It was the leader who stood with us, praised you and challenged us to do better.
What is your team doing well? What individual team members need someone to point out what they are doing right?
As Ken Blanchard reminded us many years ago in his classic book, The One Minute Manager, catch people doing something right and praise them for it. That’s the kind of leader I want to be. How about you?