I recently read an article about how overpraising our children results in the need for them to look to us for approval and acceptance rather than developing their own sense/feeling of accomplishment. I think about my own children and how I praise them for everything. For their good manners, athleticism, school work. And, how they now look to me to tell them they are doing great rather than feeling that sense of accomplishment themselves. By over-praising my children, am I neglecting them the ability to be independent and authentic?
I also wonder how closely this relates to leadership. Are you a leader that provides regular approval and praising to your teams? Is it possible for your staff to develop their own sense of accomplishment? And, would it change your staff’s effectiveness and productivity if they did develop their own sense of accomplishment rather than seeking that approval from you? While, I would never suggest that you not provide positive feedback to staff, I do encourage you to consider a different approach.
I have changed the way I praise my children so they develop their own sense of accomplishment. When they ask me if I think they kicked the soccer ball far, I simply ask them what they think. When they answer yes or no, I ask why and what could they have done differently. Once they have their chance, I make sure to praise them for reflecting their true selves. I’ve noticed our conversation is much less about approval now and more about what they believe went well and didn’t. This new conversation is increasing their confidence and allowing them to be more authentic.
I challenge you to do the same as a leader. Ask your staff what they believe is going well and what is not going well. Ask them about where they are excelling and where they might want to improve. And, provide your insights after you have heard from them. You might just find their answer is more authentic than the one you provided. And, you might just find their authentic self is far better than the one constantly seeking your approval.