Discover more from Admired Leadership Field Notes
Praise and Encouragement Are Not the Same Thing
Praise is unquestionably a highly effective leadership strategy. Leaders who praise others offer their explicit approval of what has recently been accomplished.
Whenever they give praise, leaders reinforce and recognize the achievements they want to see more of. As such, praise is the tool of choice for anyone who wants to elevate performance and drive toward better results.
Unfortunately, we now know praise comes with some baggage.
Too much praise robs people of the intrinsic motivation to achieve great outcomes for personal satisfaction. Team members can quickly become dependent on praise for everything they do. This actually diminishes performance over time as they crave more and more praise, placing more emphasis on approval than on the work itself.
It also places leaders on a pedestal from which they are expected to dole out ever more praise like some pied piper. Praise has its place, but also its limitations.
Encouragement, on the other hand, tells others the leader believes they have the capability to achieve. Encouragement provides support and confidence before the results are in.
In contrast to praise, encouragement inspires people to do more through their own effort and promotes self-evaluation. It emboldens others to do great work without focusing attention on the leader. If praise is the candy leaders hand out, encouragement is the rocket fuel leaders inject to strengthen resolve.
The best leaders make the conscious shift from less praise to more encouragement. They understand the power of fortifying the confidence team members need to perform. In the process, they redirect the focus from themselves to others.
“I’m proud of what you have accomplished!” becomes “You’ve worked hard. You must be very proud of yourself.”
“You did a great job on that assignment!” turns into “Tell me how you achieved so much on that assignment.”
“The client had great things to say about your presentation!” converts to “You need to teach others how to win over clients with a presentation.”
On the face of it, praise and encouragement seem almost interchangeable, but there is a marked difference between them. The best leaders rely more heavily on encouragement than they do praise because they understand the importance of getting people to lift themselves up with just a little help from a few choice words.