Who’s in the spotlight?
Carl Stotz (02/20/1910 – 06/04/1992) was the founder of Little League Baseball. He lived and died in the community where I live. In my minds eye, I can still see him watching games from his folding lawn chair. For Carl, Little League was always about the children and not about him. I never saw him publicly grabbing for the spotlight.
If you’re currently leading, you’ve experienced success in the past. You may feel the temptation to take credit, to grab for glory. I urge you to resist.
The more deeply you feel urges to step into the spotlight the more urgently you must turn it on others. However, a new problem emerges.
Praising some creates jealousy in others.
The down side of publicly shining the spotlight on others is jealousy. For example, your team completed its last project on time and under budget. Mary and Bob went the extra mile, while the other six did a good job. When you spotlight some, the “dark side” comes out in others. They think, “Why are they getting all the credit. I worked hard too. Mary and Bob are suck-ups.” What’s a leader to do?
Question #1 – How do you shine the spotlight on others? Note that spotlighting others is a public activity not a private one.
Question #2 – Turning the public spotlight away from you toward high performers may create jealousy in others. Should you honor high performers anyway?
Question #3 – How do you deal with any negativity that may result from spotlighting some but not all?
Speaking of spotlights, I’m very thankful for everyone who left comments on yesterday’s blog: Bottlenecks.
Interesting questions! I believe that if you spend time each day recognizing the value each employee brings to your team, you don’t have to worry about jealousy. If I’m recognized when I do something well, I won’t worry about others getting recognition. In fact, the leader has an opportunity to create a culture where employees would even recognize the accomplishments of others. On the other hand, if the leader waits to recognize employees only when something out of the ordinary occurs, they will create a culture of jealousy.
Leadership is made up of daily habits and behaviors. Leaders become more effective when they take time to connect with employees and recognize the value they bring to the team on a daily basis. Celebrating small “wins”, effort and improvement is what creates a culture of mutual respect rather than jealousy.
Another fantastic post! Thanks for sharing your insights,
As always you leave great and useful comment!
What I hear you saying is leaders who let jealousy prevent them from shining the spotlight on deserving individuals need to step up their game and create a culture where praise, honor, recognition are part of the culture.
If fearful leaders can act on principle rather than fear progress is inevitable.
Best to you and your training, coaching, and consulting business.
Jen’s & Kelly’s blog: http://theexperiencefactor.com/the-x-blog/
Thanks for the reminder about the foundational perspective on this Jen….it is an everyday thing that can build. Leadership opportunities are every moment, every interaction with every person.
I agree with Jen.
An analogy I see has to do with politics. Folks get plenty upset when they see a law or earmark benefiting others. If no law or earmark ever goes your way, then there is reason for upset. But if you too are getting some of the stuff you want, then getting upset (or jealous) is unreasonable.
Each employee needs to know that they are valued for that which they do well. Some are a bit more fragile and need a few more strokes, but if that’s the worst of it…
Leaving an illustration from the political world is apropos.
Best to you in your consulting business.
Jeremy’s website: http://brombergllc.com/
As long as you don’t take anyone’s spotlight away (or deprive people from the spotlight) there should be nothing wrong with giving praise when it is deserved. Mature individuals can handle seeing someone else succeed when there is merit related to that. The problem comes when some people consistently do not receive recognition (when they think it is deserved).
The tricky part comes when Mary performs better than Bob, but Bob puts in more effort than Mary. Hmmmm….
Thank you for your comment and for leaving us with a devilish question!
Best to you … I saw your blog at – http://evarykr.com/ – lots of great ideas.
I see #2 as pivotal for advancing a positive organizational culture and a key component of leadership.
1) It really isn’t about you, so you do need to turn the spotlight on others.
2) It is rarely done consistently or often enough.
3) It self-perpetuates in a positive spiral. Others start doing it once they get over feeling awkward about praising/spotlighting their coworkers. Then ‘work’ becomes really fun…and productive.
One qualifier to it would be those who shy from the spotlight and are very private, then you have to come up with other ways to recognize on a lower key way. Another qualifier is when the spotlight becomes the goal and takes away from the work.
Try this: (it will feel awkward if you haven’t done it, stick with a few months to habitize), announce a bit before a meeting that you facilitate that you want to start meetings with props, kudos, appreciations and/or recognitions. Doesn’t matter how booked the agenda is, make 5 minutes time. Be prepared with a few to toss out, but just one or two and then ask for others. Be specific, hopefully recent and how it impacted you. Be relatively comfortable with an awkward silence or two as well.
See how that spotlight works as you pass it around. Another win was that this set the tone for the meeting. We did this and our minutes ended up, after a few months, with a half page to a page of kudos, which we posted throughout the area…secondary gain!
So the exception to doing this would be if you have to announce lay offs…tough timing there. 😉
We recently started inviting key individuals to leadership meetings so that we can explain how they are supporting our vision and affirm the impact they are having. However, what you are saying doesn’t require much time or preparation. I love it.
Our next leadership meeting will begin with, “whats going well” or “lets talk about the good stuff.”
Props for a practical way that helps build a positive, motivating culture.
I think these kinds of imbalances among teams of coworkers sometimes reflect the fact that the organization has not succeeded in helping every employee embrace its mission.
There are some extremely quiet people out there who have the most thorough understanding of their organization’s mission, without whom many projects would fail outright. Their lack of “showing off” does not indicate they aren’t 100% committed to the mission. Perhaps the astute leader should tune in to the fact that sometimes these team members feel more rewarded by a one-on-one thank you than a public recognition. Of course, monetary rewards or rewards like extra time off frequently work well too!
I appreciate your insight. As you were explaining ways to reward someone I thought about access. Giving someone more time or access to you or important projects is another way to reward high performers. I know you have to be cautious of favoritism.
You can read Paula’s blog at http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com/
To recognize top performers on my team, I created the “golden lunch pail extra effort award.” As the name would imply, winners receive—you guessed it—a gold lunch pail that they can display in their office until a new winner is crowned (and a gift certificate). Unlike many employee recognition programs, the primary driver for someone to be selected is his or her ability to go above and beyond what would normally be expected in his or her role. Examples are clearly spelled out on the nomination form.
Although there’s a chance those who aren’t selected will feel slighted, because the parameters are clearly spelled out and communicated, everyone has an equal chance of being nominated.
Explaining a technique that removes subjectivity is a terrific addition to this conversation. As always, its great to see you.
LF readers, keep watching for Shawn’s guest blog and book give away!
Read Shawn’s blog at: http://courtingyourcareer.wordpress.com/