Many workplaces use a carrot and stick leadership approach where they give people rewards if they behave well and discipline them if they don’t. The difficulty with trying to lead by offering a carrot or stick is that it doesn’t inspire people to learn, grow or motivate themselves. In my leadership workshops, we talk about using positive reinforcement to move beyond incentives or punishments and encourage people to shine on their own. Here are some benefits of positive reinforcement:
- People feel great when they’re praised for the things they do well.
- People like it when you notice their talents and abilities and encourage them to use them.
- People are more likely to repeat a behavior when they’ve been praised for it.
- When people feel valued, they’re motivated to want to do more and better work.
- Workplaces where people praise each other are more positive.
- People feel like they matter and they’re important.
- People perform better when they’re treated like adults.
Leaders who practice self-awareness understand that employees aren’t trained seals who get a fish if they do what they’re told. Sticks hurt people and carrots make them live for the carrot. Positive reinforcement highlights employees’ strengths and encourages them to be the best they can be. Inspirational leaders create healthy, creative and productive workplaces by praising people for the things they do well instead of looking for ways to correct or punish them. What will you do to practice positive reinforcement in your workplace?