Leadership: Has anything changed?

“Can you imagine what it felt like to have 8 years of criticism, 8 years without praise and still trying your best, 8 year of success and no recognition?” Martin Sharp

Today I made a woman cry and I was happy about it!

I made a woman cry! Great floods of tears. Uncontrollable, seemingly without end and without space for her to get a word out.

Now, this is not a usual occurrence for me, I’m not one to make people cry and I’m sure if you had been there in the open office looking in through the glass panels of the meeting room, those kind of floor to ceiling panes of glass that make the occupants feel like they are a zoo exhibit or feature in an aquarium. You’d be wondering what kind of cruel monster could make a colleague cry like that, or potentially what bad news have I given her. Has she been reprimanded or possible fired!

I know if I was on the other side of these panels looking in, then I would have concerns too and be wondering how I could help or if I could help. As a silent voyeur into the silent scene playing out before you, what would you be thinking right now and what would you do?

When finally, the tears subsided enough she replied “No one has ever spoken to me like that before. In fact, no one has ever given me praise while I have worked here over the past 8 years, only criticism!”

It was my turn to be speechless, 8 years without praise, how can that be? This was a very capable lady, with high standards that she meets and exceed regularly, surely someone else has noticed this? Someone should have noticed how she diligently delivered, worked through the problems and had a string of successes to her name.

When I said “thank you, this was a great piece of work, well presented and I believe this is the key that gained the agreement of all parties” I never expected her to implode, spewing 8 years of the emotional void and lack of appreciation in one almighty fallout.

If you are like me, then this is quite a humbling situation, especially when you say how pleased you are with a good job done and are specific about what was great with what they’ve done or do. I truly believe that being a good leader you must share what you believe good looks like, supporting and praising others when they meet or in this case exceed this. It is only when you share that others get to know what you truly put in high regards and can look to help you achieve what you and the organisation needs.

If you are like me then you probably expect or take for granted and assume (dangerous I know) that others have had similar experiences as you have and that like you, expect that they have treated others like you expect to be treated.

Unfortunately, this ideal is not always the case and there are so many people who are working in organisations where they receive no praise, no truly constructive feedback and no support in improving themselves moving forward.

I’m sure you’ll agree that a well-placed thank you makes you feel good? In fact, this is one of the reasons for awards and gamification, they make you feel good while being publicly recognised for doing something of note. While many won’t openly and visibly show their appreciation by becoming tearful, they will feel appreciated when you show gratitude for what they do and what they have achieved.

It is well recognised in elite sports coaching and in marketing that it takes several good comments and praise to overcome one single negative remark. In fact, in UK university studies, they found that a single negative reinforcing remark from a sports coach can significantly set the performance of an athlete. From a marketing perspective people who have a negative experience are more likely to shout about it, complain, leave bad reviews or comments. Where as less than 1 in 10 people who have a positive experience are likely to leave a comment, good review or express gratitude. So it takes a lot longer to win support than it is to lose it.

Although, can you imagine what it felt like to have 8 years of criticism, 8 years without praise and still trying your best, 8 year of success and no recognition?

Yet with positive and constructive feedback and thanks, your team are more likely to outperform your expectations.

 I challenge you to openly thank those that help you, your team, you family and your clients.

Be specific about what they have done that you are grateful for.

 Or contend with demotivated and emotional people, potentially holding themselves and you back from achieving so much more.

 I’ll leave you with this thought, saying thank you today to someone you are grateful for, will motivate them even more tomorrow.

 If you would like to know more about leadership coaching or mentoring so you can influence change, build consensus and achieve a greater success, get in touch now.

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Martin Sharp
Martin Sharp

As an Author; Coach; Mentor; Consultant; Speaker; enterprise architect and strategic thinker, I believe in delivering successful change in complex environments and clarity to the most complex of my client issues. Navigating the complex and ever-changing IT landscape, I have been told I my pragmatic solutions deliver change and realise business benefit within every organisation, every time.