Everybody appreciates a genuine, sincerely delivered pat on the back.
But that truism can get a leader into trouble. Sincere as it might be, genuine positive reinforcement can actually work against you. You may have heard me say, “Praise unexamined is futile and meaningless.” That’s because it’s never enough to simply offer your team members a pleasant, “Nice job!” Unless you and your employee examine the praise, you’re wasting your breath.
Leadership Intimacy demands that you not only recognize what kind of reinforcement every member of your team wants, but what that praise should contain, how it should be delivered, how often, and on what outcomes it needs to be focused. We’re not talking about soft, social pleasantries here. As an intimate leader, your job is to drive the kind of High Commitment that delivers High Performance. And that calls for Call-and-Response Reinforcement.
In the Reinforcement Call-and-Response technique, you encourage and reward your team for what they are doing well. In Response, they not only keep doing it, they learn to accept and own the positive behavior. This empowering style of management will ultimately result in an improved level of workplace intimacy further propelling the benefits of the leadership intimacy cycle.
More specifically, you can put real FORCE into your Reinforcement efforts with these five qualities:
1. Frequency Provide your Reinforcement Call-and-Response Coaching as often as possible. Start immediately, if not sooner. Add the mantra of “early and often” to your reinforcement.
2. Observation Observe and isolate the most defining details of the attitude, skill, or knowledge he or she has demonstrated. Be specific and base your feedback on the behavior, not the value you place on it.
3. Results Discover together what positive outcomes might result in the context of the employees’s performance criteria as well as the organization’s values and strategic goals.
4. Commitment Don’t conclude without making sure your employee understands, accepts, and owns what the two of you have discovered.
5. Engagement Commitments can die unless you keep your employees engaged and hold them to their promises.
In my paper Call-and-Response Reinforcement, I go into more detail about Reinforcement and run through a couple of examples of good and bad efforts. It’s all good theory, based on research into cognitive science, and it may help reinforce your understanding of the subject.
Of course, if you want to get serious about developing your leadership skills alongside other leaders, think about joining our Fit-for-Purpose Leadership Training Programs.
Follow us on LinkedIn