7 Suggestions When a Leader Offers Praise

One aspect of leadership is appreciating the people one leads. I must admit, this has to be a discipline for me, because I’m not naturally wired for this. I can be guilty of expecting too much from people. When someone does the extraordinary work it comes easier for me to praise them, but I don’t always feel the need to acknowledge the normal work people do – especially when they are being paid to do it.

I realize, however, that all of us, including me, enjoy hearing we did a good job. Some people are even fueled by it. So, offering praise is a necessary part of a leader’s responsibility. We should all do it whether we are wired to or not.

And, when we do, there are certain things which can help us.

Here are 7 suggestions when a leader offers praise:

Be specific

Tell the person what he or she did well in specific rather than general terms. Make sure they know what they did or are doing well. 

Be honest

Make it genuine. False praise or praise offered only for person gain is seldom appreciated.

Be intentional

Some of us have to discipline to praise. That’s okay. It’s worth it. Don’t assume someone else will do it or that the person receives enough praise. (I try to intentionally praise at least 2 or 3 people per week among staff and volunteers.)

Be timely

People shouldn’t wait long after a job done well to receive praise for it. 

Be creative

Find unique ways to offer praise. Send a handwritten note. Not many do it anymore.  Give an extra day off. Recognize them in front of others. And, of course, don’t forget the personal, face-to-face approach. 

Be unique

Don’t say the same thing everyone else is saying or the same thing to every person. Find the thing or aspect to praise that no one else has noted.

Be helpful

Offer praise which helps the person recognize strengths and encourages them in that area.

It does take intentionality to be an appreciative leader. Our staff would probably tell you I have much work to do. I would have to agree with them. But, I do recognize the value and keep striving to improve.

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6 thoughts on “7 Suggestions When a Leader Offers Praise

  1. Thank you for this great article on using words of affirmation in the workplace. I’ve found that’s how I most like to receive appreciation from my boss and peers. It’s also important to remember that not everyone values verbal praise and other types of actions may be more meaningful. If you haven’t checked it out already, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White offers some great insights on how to cultivate authentic appreciation. http://www.appreciationatwork.com/

  2. Be honest/sincere is so crucial. I think as Christians we have an advantage because we can see people as God sees them. I agree with your assessment.

    Discipline is needed to develop a sincere love for people. When you see people as God sees them, it's easy to offer praise/encouragement. It also takes discipline to humble yourself and over come insecurities.

    Sincere praise can be expressed in the simplest of terms "Thank you" "Your a rock star" … the best praise is protecting the integrity of their hard work.