Eight Things Truly Outstanding Leaders Do Without Thinking, Part 1: Praise

There are certain skills and attitudes that truly outstanding leaders exhibit. You can sense these traits almost immediately when interacting with these individuals. Whether you consider yourself a natural born leader or one who has developed over time from experience, training and self-reflection, the more you put into practicing these skills, the better leader you will become, and these skills will become second nature.  slice

Through this series, adapted by an article in Inc. magazine, written by Jeff Haden, we will explore the eight things truly outstanding leaders do without thinking and the experiences Valencia leaders have with implementing them.

This first installment features Karen Reilly, campus dean of learning support, West Campus, and Mike Favorit, manager of security, West Campus as they share their insights on praise.

“It’s easy to tell when employee recognition is simply one entry on a very long to-do list. We’ve all been around people who occasionally — and awkwardly — shake a few hands and pat a few backs. No matter how hard they try to fake it, their insincerity is evident,” shares Jeff in his article.

He continues, “No one gets enough praise, so truly outstanding leaders see expressing thanks, giving praise and providing recognition as one gift that can never be given often enough.

karen-reilly-270w“Developing one’s ability to lead is an ongoing task,” says Karen. “It is very much an art, though we have all been to countless workshops, gone through courses and read books that want to tell us exactly how it should be done. I do believe that individuals have an innate desire to know they are on the right track, meeting expectations and being noticed when they go the extra mile.”

“However, the form that recognition takes requires a custom fit in order for it to have personal meaning,” she adds. “A grand public announcement of gratification for a job well-done may be exactly what one person likes, but to another, they may be terribly embarrassed or even mortified to be singled out in front of a crowd. Giving appropriate and meaningful feedback comes from knowing one’s colleagues on an individual basis.”

While Karen doesn’t have an exact formula for giving praise, she emphasizes the importance of knowing your audience. “There are occasions when a good, old-fashioned, handwritten thank you is hard to beat. The notes can be fine-tuned to the unique characteristics of the individual and situation to convey sincere appreciation for their contribution.”

She’s found that the most effective form of praise is to ensure that everyone on the team knows you are diligently committed to noticing their efforts and that you are interested in what they are doing. “This sounds simple, but the rush to accomplish everything in a given day often causes us to focus much of our energy on the fires that flare up,” Karen added.

Mike-Favorit-270wMike likes to recognize his “troops” in the daily lineup in front of others.

“This makes them proud and trains the other officers on what I am looking for with customer service and security officers,” he shared. And so, he has also implemented an “Officer of the Quarter” award. “Every member of the team can submit any employee for recognition and their photograph will be displayed for the quarter in the front office and for one year in the employee break room.” Award winners also receive a gift card.

“Every person I know likes to be thanked for a good deed,” and Mike makes it a point to praise in public and in private. “It’s a two-pronged approach and this gets them into my office for good things also.”

Mike also stresses the importance of honest communication.

“Good or bad, you must be honest. Troops can choke down bad if you are honest. Troops hate fake.” Mike elaborated that he lets his team members know the truth, builds them up and shares that they should not be afraid to make a mistake.

Praise takes many forms. The key is your sincerity in the delivery of the praise and knowing your team members well enough to ensure that you provide recognition in a way that is meaningful to them.

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