Lead by praise, not criticism – thoughts on this week’s Leadershipchallenge – from a dad’s perspective

Preparing for tomorrow’s LC call of the week (Siemens internal) I will share my thoughts on the weeks challenge – curious to read comments, further views or alternative perspectives from any of you.

Praise to strengthen your team’s strengths. Sounds obvious, but however doesn’t seem to be very popular in my working environment. Leaders I know, typically tend to focus on problems. From my perspective as an employee many leaders seem to find their purpose in taking over control or giving commands, where team members fail. Focus accordingly is on weaknesses, not on strengths. Since no-one likes to be seen primarily from his weak side a natural human reaction is closure – in other words: Intransparency.

Praise is the expression of real interest in a person, while criticism tends to be expression of one’s own interests.

I believe valuable criticism can only occur, when strengths are sufficiently appreciated and mutually known – in other words: when a relationship builds on trust.

Let’s flip it and imagine an environment, where the focus is on strengths – i.e. where leading by praise, not criticism is in place. Being dad of 3 kids (3-8 years of age) I experienced, how criticism can provoke drastic reactions and even leads to abrupt termination of exchange – thus leading is impossible. This taught me, that usually failures are sufficiently realized by my kids themselves and there is little purpose in pointing out failures from my side. I want to guide my kids towards being self confident and self reliant personalities, capable of autonomous interaction with their environment. I made the experience, that for earning their trust, I must have a close look on what my kids are proud of – and let them know I acknowledge and recognize their strengths. Praising strengths accordingly is the entrance to a trusted relationship – only now, a joint learning journey can start.

Maybe paradox at first sight, but inevitable truth according above thoughts: Learning is better accompanied by praise, than by criticism. Let’s go one step farther: Don’t we wish for our kids / team mates / employees to ask for our support, when they fail, rather than us having to force course-correction in case of failures, rather than us having to criticise them? Who do you think, your team will ask for support in case of failure? How do you act to gain trust and earn access to the the learning journey of your team members?

Would love to read your comments here and broaden my horizon.