HOW TO ACKNOWLEDGE WITH POWER
Updated: Mar 18
Catching People In The Act Of Leading
One of the common gripes we hear is that people don't feel as valued for their work as they would like to be. In my experience, this is because we are strangers to praises - whether we're giving or receiving them. We are much more familiar with being hard on ourselves and others. We constantly analyse and downgrade what we do in our day-to-day work: It's not good enough. We also receive regular criticism from others - bosses, employees, colleagues - who are extremely generous with their comments on what we're doing wrong and how we can improve. In addition, we imagine criticism from people and take offence even when there is none. When we do receive a compliment, or somebody affirms and congratulates us, we dismiss it: It's nothing. It slides off like melted butter on a teflon skillet. Or we see it as a cue that criticism might be coming next and brace ourselves for the punch in the stomach.
How often do you acknowledge the leadership moments?
Acknowledgement is about catching people in the act of doing things right. It's about noticing and pointing out what's going right and what's right about them. The effect on the person can be truly transforming. They experience being seen and valued. Their self-confidence builds up. They feel good about themselves. That feeling of power, excitement and energy - it's addictive. They will want to repeat that behaviour. It also builds a close bond between you and others.
Acknowledgement can be as simple as saying:
"Hey, I saw what you did there. That's special."
"I'm really proud of you for taking on the challenge."
"What you did really raised our ability to respond faster. Well done!"
The mistake leaders make all too often is skipping over these leadership moments. The moment we achieve one goal, we automatically shift our focus to the next goal. We're constantly rushing to achieve the next goal, the next quarter, the next promotion.
Why don't we acknowledge people more often?
Acknowledging people is a very active task. It also takes guts, particularly if you work in an environment where "constructive feedback" is valued over acknowledgement. We think that criticism is good for us - it makes us better. It's not true. One study by the Gallup Organisation found that criticism was taken positively once in every 13 situations.
When an employee underperforms at work, the manager thinks it has little or nothing to do with how he treats him - that it’s entirely up to the person alone. The person is incompetent. But that’s simply not true. When someone puts us down or humiliates us, it threatens and undermines our mental ability to be at our best. The manager needs to understand that he’s partly responsible for his employee’s mental state and subsequent inability to do better. When a manager points his finger at his employee for the company’s troubles and woes, four fingers are pointing back at him. The leader is the fountainhead; toxic water flows downhill.
But so does clean water. A leader has an incredible opportunity to help his employees get into and stay in an internal state where they can do their best work. When a leader says that his employees take pride in their work and come to work daily, committed to do their best, he is holding the space for people to rise and grow. And they do. Nobody shows up to work to suck at their jobs; everyone wants to do well.
If you're not actively empowering people, then you're disempowering them unintentionally.
Who can you acknowledge?
Acknowledge your employees. Actively notice when your employee is doing something right. Notice the impact your acknowledgement has on their behaviour.
Acknowledge yourself. Be kind to yourself. This also opens you to receive acknowledgement from others.
Acknowledge your boss. This surprises most people. But bosses need positive feedback too.
Great leaders aren't born. Leadership skills like acknowledgement can be learned. Leadership is something that everyone can participate in. Everyone leads, every day. Catch people in the act of leading. Acknowledge the X-factor.
Are you looking to develop better acknowledgement or recognition skills for yourself or your team? Talk to us about bringing Fight Club leadership programme to your organisation.
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