Use Positive Reinforcement

The first duty of a leader is optimism. How does your subordinate feel after meeting with you? Does he feel uplifted? If not, you are not a leader.
- Field Marshall Montgomery

Nobody remembers it. Everybody seems to forget it. But positive reinforcement trumps negative criticism every time.

It doesn't matter if you are training dolphins or motivating your team members, positive reinforcement is the way to go. You don't see trainers at Sea World beating the dolphins with baseball bats when they don't jump through the right hoops. You see them, instead, giving them little fish when they do jump through.

Why can't we remember that?

We're too busy chasing down problems and then criticizing the problem people who created the problems. That's how most managers "lead."

But that's a habit trap. And like any other habit trap, there are certain small behaviors that will remove you from that trap. For example, you will want to pause a moment before e-mailing or calling any one of your team players. You will want to take a moment. You want to decide what small appreciation you can communicate to them.

You will want to always realize that positive reinforcement is powerful when it comes to guiding and shaping human performance. This revelation continues to surprise us, because we have been trained by our society to identify what's wrong and fix it.

A very surprised Napoleon once said, "The most amazing thing I have learned about war is that men will die for ribbons."

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