This is part of a series on exploring how to create exceptional employees on your team. There is a lot of discussion around the concepts I want to explore today. The first is that every organization is a reflection of its leadership. Not just those at the top, but the leaders right down to those immediate supervisors who are responsible for the smallest teams in the organization, reflect its culture.
Who Has Influence To Create Change?
This is not a new concept, and admittedly one that I think finds general acceptance. I cut my teeth on leadership in the armed forces, and this idea is something I have seen time and time again. Where I may differ from some is in my belief that while senior leadership bears responsibility for the culture of a company and often that will be reflected with junior leaders, it doesn't always have to be that way.
Most change management research will tell you that the leaders with the most influence are those who are your direct reports. These individuals have far more impact on their team than they realize. They actually have the potential superpower to create exceptional employees.
This brings me to the second concept (and potential superpower); praise. In an excellent article, 8 Signs an Employee Is Exceptional (Which Never Appear on Performance Evaluations), Jeff Haden lists one of the signs of an exceptional employee as someone who praises in public. Those are the folks who don't hesitate to congratulate teammates who have done something well for the team. They tend to be those folks who carry a lot of influence with the group.
Let's go back to point one; if you have the most influence over the people who report to you directly, then practicing praise with your team is something that will "rub off on them." You can create that culture in your group by practicing what you want them to do - praise. That is your potential superpower!
Let's be clear, you need to know what to praise and when. It has to be genuine, and it should be connected with performance or behavior that you know is relevant to the aims of the team. Like the analogy of the geese flying in formation, each bird takes turns leading, but each bird also makes sure to "honk" praise to encourage the bird in the lead.
To sum it up. If staff is influenced by you and excellent staff practice praising others, then you practicing that same skill should get your team feeling comfortable praising each other as well. There is more to come regarding creating exceptional employees, but this is certainly something to think about. By the way, "thank you" for taking the time to read these short blogs. It is a real encouragement to me, and I appreciate it! Performance Leadership - Think About It!