There’s a famous management quote that says you “get what you inspect.” This quote has its roots in the hierarchical and positional history of what once passed for leadership. Within this history, leadership was about giving orders, publicly admonishing low performers, inspiring angst and fear among workers, and applying pressure to see who was left standing. These behaviors are anachronistic relics from a time when the supply of workers seemed endless, and job satisfaction was equated to one’s ability to endure.
They differ greatly from what it truly takes to inspire performance at all levels of your organization.
A Boss Expects… A Leader Invests
There is a place in work environments for setting expectations and holding people accountable to those expectations. However, it’s a fact that team members who feel supported and nurtured are more productive and remain more loyal than those who only endure daily trials. Fear of the boss, or the boss’s potential outbursts, has no place in a highly productive workplace culture.
True leaders invest in the teams they serve, rather than merely spending time with them. You should be:
- Nurturing relationships
- Improving systems
- Sponsoring your team members’ growth
These actions stand in direct contrast to those displayed by bosses who spend their time instilling angst and fear. A real leader understands that challenging times will always arrive eventually. When the moment comes, there’s no benefit in having a fearful team. Rather, your investment in the capacity and strength of your team will carry the day.
Noticing Is Important
A key strategy for building trust and loyalty is to make time to notice the contributions of your support persons. A leader’s values are revealed by how they treat those who are perceived as lowest in the hierarchy. When you are intentional and purposeful in noticing the contributions of support persons, you send the message that everyone’s work matters and is valued.
Noticing is different from praise, because it involves more than public adulation. By noticing your support team’s contributions, you imply that you’ve invested in understanding the tasks they perform and know how those tasks help fulfill your organization’s mission.
Noticing your support team’s work also demonstrates that you pay attention to detail, rather than inspecting and admonishing. This focus will inspire greater performance on the part of your team, inspiring them to commit collectively to the outcome of their work.
Follow Noticing with Affirmations
Ensure all who hear your affirmations understand the value of the contributions being affirmed. Team members should understand why the work of the support team is so vital. An effective affirmation demonstrates genuine appreciation and admiration for the quality of the work, while positively raising awareness of which contributions are expected and appreciated.
Authentic Recognition Is Key
Those in positions of authority often botch recognition for good work. They look for quick and easy ways to check the box and briefly place focus on someone other than themselves. But, cursory or inauthentic recognition is typically belittled and ridiculed by team members. Authentic recognition, on the other hand, is deeply appreciated.
If you’re making a point of performing public recognition for services provided or an accomplishment of note, be aware of the following factors:
- Are all who offered significant contributions being recognized?
- Is the recognition authentic or could it be seen as perfunctory?
- Will the team observe the recognition as having been both noticed and affirmed?
- Is the recognition also meaningful? Does it act as an example of held norms, beliefs, and values?
The Message It Sends
When you invest time, effort, and resources into understanding your team’s roles, you position yourself as someone capable of noticing, affirming, and recognizing to their fullest effects. Build and nurture relationships by authentically noticing good work, affirming contributions, and recognizing results. Doing so allows you to experience the loyalty and long-term commitment of your team.
Ready to take the next step? Download our free eBook today and learn how to develop your leadership language and engage others.
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.