1. Praise From The Bottom Up
It’s easy to praise from the top down. Giving thanks to all the leaders first and then working down to some blanket-statement of gratitude for “the countless other people who can’t all be named…”
Why is there time to name the leaders but not the real heroes?
Try this just once, see if you go back: praise from the bottom up. Sing specific praises – and name names – of those who’ll blush and smile sheepishly when the spotlight hits them. Thank them first. Not only does that let people know that you see where the rubber hits the road, but you get much more thunderous applause! (I don’t care who you are, we all love it when regular people and underdogs win)
2. Correct From The Top Down
If you’re the leader, no matter what happens you own it. So own it first.
In my experience real problem-solving happens when people feel safe. That usually means leaders having the self-confidence to be vulnerable. In far too many companies the game is to duck for cover when things go wrong. It’s usually leaders who start the dodge-fest by pointing fingers and blaming others.
Here’s a simple guide to proper blaming: Don’t.
It is sometimes necessary to correct, sure, but blame accomplishes nothing (at best). When correction is needed, correct from the top down and avoid blame.
3. Correct The Future, Not The Past
When you need to correct, talk about the future not the past. Phrases like “going forward, let’s make sure to” or “here’s how we can improve on” are empowering even in full candor because they are forward-looking.
Correcting things that happened in the past (ex: “here’s what you should have done”) means you’re too late!
It’s okay to reference past outcomes as needed, but only correct forward. Like you, your people can be cruelly hard on themselves. They re-live their mistakes over and over just like we all do. Be the leader. Pull them out of the mire by pointing at the future and saying “c’mon, let’s go there!”
Jason Petersen owns Hansen Lighting Inc. a lighting company with multiple showrooms in Utah.
Jason acquired Hansen Lighting out of near-bankruptcy in 2004 and turned the company around by implementing outside-the-box systems and ideas. The company is now one of the fastest growing companies in America (#3087 on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list) and has been recognized as one of the most profitable privately-owned retailers in North America.
Jason is also the co-founder of XOLogic and Lit Living Inc.