It has the ability to transform our perspective on our company, our role, our team and even our leadership mission.
In my own experience, praise well-delivered has helped assure me I am on the right path in a variety of important ways. It has empowered me with the knowledge that my efforts are making a difference for others, thus changing the world one initiative at a time.
So what constitutes the essential palette in the Art of Praise?
- It must be genuinely heartfelt to be believable
- Timeliness is critical for praise to have its greatest impact
- Relevance is key or it’s not very useful
- Supporting praise with detail makes it easier to reproduce critical behaviors
- Coming from a person of great respect makes it more impactful
- Expressing appreciation with praise amplifies its power
- Receiving it regularly and not just once a year makes it significantly more valuable
One brilliant leader that I have come to learn was a master of praise is Abraham Lincoln. Observe how he covers the first six essential ingredients in a letter written to General Ulysses S. Grant within a few weeks of Grant’s capture of Vicksburg (from “Lincoln on Leadership” by Donald T. Phillips):
I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done for the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg…I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I that the expedition could succeed…I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
Phillips goes on to say that this approach by Lincoln had an impact in several ways:
He was directly informing his general that the president and the government genuinely appreciated and approved of his actions. This would spur Grant to continue his aggressive style, which, of course, is exactly what Lincoln wanted.
Indirectly, Lincoln was also saying that he would not take credit for the general’s successes, which appealed to Grant’s ego and sense of self-worth.
So the benefits of praise well-delivered include:
- Knowing and feeling that your contributions are valued
- Encouragement to continue the same behaviors
- A boost to one’s ego and sense of self-worth
- A renewed commitment to the mission at hand
- A transformed perspective
- Personal and professional growth
- Knowing you’re making a difference – which encourages your heart to open and your spirits to soar
- Assurance that you’re on your true path in some way…
What am I leaving out? Are there other essential ingredients in the palette, and what important benefits have I forgotten?
Our topic will be: The Art of Praise. We look forward to seeing all of you there!
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Photo is Painter’s Tools by Valerie Everett.