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Leadership and recognition

By December 14, 2013 May 6th, 2020 No Comments

If you look up the definition of the word leadership, most dictionaries will say it is about guiding, influencing or directing people.

In life and in business, those we see or identify as leaders don’t always possess a ‘leadership’ title, have direct employees or have a responsibility to manage people. Anyone can guide, influence and direct.

So this blog could apply to you whether or not a clear-cut aspect of your job is to “lead others”. If it is, however, feel free to pay particular attention!

True, authentic, well-constructed and well-delivered recognition is one of the most powerful tools you have to lead and develop others. Here are 5 reasons why we believe this to be true.

We Want Progress: People are highly motivated and rewarded by experiencing progress, knowing they are getting better at something, contributing to something, nearing completion or reaching a goal. In a work environment, people want to know how they are doing, that what they do matters and it is valued. While many leaders are trained in how to provide formative or constructive performance feedback, few are as competent in or as quick to provide positive feedback and recognition. Structured recognition is perhaps the only business practice designed to expressly and exclusively provide positive feedback. The opportunity to acknowledge, support, reward and recognise others progress is a critical, impactful leadership activity.

It Builds Valuable Emotional Currency: Praise feels good. Research shows us that it takes 5 positive experiences to offset a negative one, and our emotions are contagious. Whether elated, angry or curious, our emotions spread out to others we interact with, influencing the emotional climate. This can be on one hand especially dangerous, on the other especially opportunistic in a work environment – therein lays the leadership opportunity of recognition. Positive experiences increase and enhance individual resources. Dr. Barbara Frederickson, a leading researcher on positive emotions, discovered that positive experiences enhance intellectual abilities and problem solving, provide social and psychological benefits, making us more resilient in times of challenge, and they can promote physical well-being. Because emotions are contagious, an increased focus on positive feedback through recognition fosters a better work environment for everyone, and greater capability for the collective organisation.

It Promotes Learning and Growth: Not all praise is equally valuable. But if you recognise well, you not only create a positive experience, you can help to foster a growth-mindset. People with a growth-mindset are more willing to tackle challenges and believe that effort, perseverance and action leads to achievement and success. On the other hand, in a fixed-mindset people begin to assume accomplishments or ability to contribute are limited by their attributes, making them more averse to challenge, less resilient and ultimately less successful. Recognising this way also helps others know and repeat desirable behaviors.

It Creates Meaning out of Work: Most organisations have articulated their purpose, vision, values, strategies and maybe even a brand promise. We can connect people and their day-to-day activities with these big, lofty ideas and aspirations when we recognise and reward contributions that help make these things happen. Recognition can be like putting a mirror in front of someone and saying “look, here’s what you did, here’s how it helps me, the team, the project, the company, the customer…” Well delivered recognition makes work more meaningful and more purposeful.

It’s Rewarding: Research has proven that when people receive social support and reinforcement, it activates the same reward centres of our brain as those activated when we receive something of monetary value or a tangible gift. Recognition should be part of the ‘total reward experience’, part of the employee value proposition, a benefit that every employee (not just the organisation) can help create. Here’s the even better part. Science also shows that recognition is rewarding to both the giver, and the receiver. Double the benefit for the price of one recognition.

When you recognise others, the gift of appreciation is likely to be returned or repeated by others. It encourages, guides and influences those around you to see value in each other, to share what is valuable and what contributes to success.

Finally, let’s not forget the proven link between consistent and meaningful recognition and overall employee engagement – plus numerous business results.

Is recognition in your leadership tool box? When’s the last time you used it? Are you doing it most effectively? If not, why not?

If you would like to know more, give the Brownie Points team a call on 03 9909 7411 or email us at

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