by Marcus Straub

Business leaders determined to move their companies to ever higher levels of success look for ways to improve operations. To achieve this objective requires a discerning awareness about what is — and isn’t — working.

Beware of a common pitfall, though: focusing on what’s wrong at the expense of what’s right.

This approach might lead to some improvements and short-term results. But over time, it will damage vital aspects of the business. Given their singular focus and accompanying astigmatism, leaders fail to see all that’s actually achieved, the solid effort put forth by team members and how far the business has progressed over time.

Those same leaders will squash the morale of their team members with a lack of praise and abundance of criticism. In turn, team members will become less excited about being a part of and furthering the company’s mission. Top performers will likely move on. This will hinder the very efficiency and effectiveness that’s sought and the success that’s desired.

Conversely, when leaders offer well-deserved praise and recognition to their team members while also working to continually enhance how the company operates, a solid culture is built and benefits ripple through the business.

Why? Because when people feel good, even great, about the positive steps they’re taking and the work they’re doing, they’re encouraged to stay the course. To test this, just consider how great it feels and how motivating it is when you receive praise and recognition for your efforts.

Most people thrive on praise and enjoy recognition. When they’re praised for jobs well done, they feel good and valued. They’re inspired to keep up their good work. They light up and become excited, and it’s apparent in their body language and behavior.

When this occurs repeatedly, they grow more self-confident, take on challenges with greater initiative and passion and become more adept at whatever they’re doing. In other words, they’re motivated in positive ways to learn, grow and become and do more.

On the other hand, when people truly give their best and that’s met with only criticism about what they did wrong or should have done better, they feel defeated, inadequate and undervalued. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a situation like this, you know how unpleasant the experience is and how it compounds as this behavior repeats over time. This is called negative conditioning and leads to resentment, disengagement and diminished self-confidence along with decreased performance and increased turnover.

The desire to feel good about ourselves and the efforts we put forth is a very real human need. As a leader, it’s wise to get a firm hold on this understanding and change your perspective and behavior to consistently offer the praise and recognition your team members appreciate and need to continue advancing. Positive reinforcement offers a more effective leadership strategy than negative conditioning.

As I coach leaders how to lead from a position of composure and with a balanced perspective, they work with their teams in new, dynamic and more effective ways. This enables them to build empowered teams that produce the very results they look to achieve.

When team members in any business are supported in constructive ways — both in praise for jobs well done and encouragement in those areas in which they need to improve — they’ll perform at higher levels simply because they feel valued and motivated to do their best. When you give others what they want, they’re more likely to give you what you want, and everyone is happier and more successful.

In your unending pursuit of business success, don’t forget to consistently provide the well-deserved praise and recognition your team members need to learn, grow and become top performers. Doing so will increase job satisfaction and performance and reduce costly turnover.


Marcus Straub is Founder and CEO of Life Is Great! (LIG) Coaching and Consulting, Inc. based in Grand Junction, Colorado. Serving individuals of all ages and companies of all sizes, in locations across the country and around the world, Marcus specializes in the development of customized, full-spectrum coaching programs tailored to meet the unique goals of each individual client. Purposefully created to guide those involved toward unprecedented personal, professional, and organizational growth, Marcus has become well-known for his straightforward approach and systematic techniques. An innovative coach, consultant, business development expert, corporate trainer, keynote speaker, and author, Marcus believes in the power of motivation to be inspired in the face of any given reality.