It’s coming up on Thanksgiving. So naturally, I’m thinking about gratitude as a leadership competency. I’m thinking specifically about the grit-based leaders I know who hate saying thank you – like it violates some deeply-held value. Few people actually come out and admit that they resist thanks-giving. Their hesitance usually sounds more like this: “Why should I thank someone who’s just doing the job I’m paying them to do?” or “Hey – nobody coddled me; I don’t see why I should coddle anyone else,” or “I’m not here to make friends; I’m here to get the job done.”
Awesome. Can I come work for you?
Giving thanks at work isn’t about etiquette, it’s about effectiveness. Purely and simply, you should thank people because it’s one of the most sure-fire ways to get them to replicate behavior you want to see more of.
Most women who fall on the “grit” side of the equation tend to be logical, objective, fair and tough-minded. Often, their way of contributing to quality is to point out what’s wrong or missing. They’re not trying to tear things down – they’re actually trying to build them up by pointing out what can be better. But it can be demoralizing to be on the receiving end of that, to keep hearing only the ways in which one has fallen short of the mark. Not only is that a downer for others, but it’s also risky for you. By staying silent about all the things that went right on this latest project, you are leaving it COMPLETELY TO CHANCE whether those things will be repeated next time. No feedback, no learning.
The best praise is the most specific. “Good job” really doesn’t tell me much. But how about something like… “Good job on that briefing. It was well organized, stayed within the time limits, and concentrated only on the really important points. Your delivery was relaxed but well-paced, and you answered all the questions directly.” Not wimpy or coddling. Informative. And I know what to aim for next time.
The great thing about being on the ‘grit’ side is that it takes very little positive feedback to make a huge impact. Coming from you, praise means so much. So give it a try between now and the end of the year. Try pointing out some things that you like – even if it’s what someone’s already being paid to do. I guess you could be the first person ever to die from giving praise. But just maybe, you’ll help people better understand what you’re looking for. Knowing that, they’ll be more likely to do it again. And maybe they’ll even be more motivated to try.