How to Transform Negative Environments

The more you think about what’s wrong, the more wrong you see.

Your job isn’t fixing, correcting, and improving. It’s creating environments where others fix, correct, and improve.

Criticism deflates. Approval energizes.

approval includes

Praise isn’t pretending:

Those who worry that praise is pretending don’t understand leadership.

Successful leaders don’t pretend things are great when they suck. But… If all you praise is perfection, you’re a negative leader.

Approval includes finding wonder in imperfection.


It occurred to me that you might need some help identifying praiseworthy behaviors.

Show approval of:

  1. Honesty. Say, “Thank you for saying that,” the next time you hear honest words that are true but difficult to hear.
  2. Alignment. “I’m thankful we’re both passionate about getting this right.”
  3. Strength.
  4. Effort.
  5. Grit.
  6. Reliability.
  7. Passion.
  8. Candor.
  9. Vulnerability.
  10. Relationship building.
  11. Helpfulness. Applaud when someone meets a need.
  12. Reputation building. When someone speaks well of others, speak well of them.

3 praise tips:

  1. Praise in ways that acknowledge the past and look into the future. “The way you performed yesterday makes me look forward to working with you on our next project.”
  2. Praise things that mean something to others. Praise their children, for example.
  3. Praise small things frequently rather than big infrequently.

You have to be present to praise.

4 praise projects that create positive culture:

Let yourself see praiseworthy behaviors by letting go of the need to see bad.

  1. Set an gratitude-alarm. Say thank you to someone at the top of every hour.
  2. Practice “drive-by gratitude.” Stop in. Give approval. Walk away.
  3. Count how many affirmations you give in an hour. Better yet, set a goal. “I’m showing approval five times between 10 and 11 a.m.” Step it up by inviting others to join you.
  4. Take five minutes at the beginning or end of the day to fill your mind with what’s working. Think about people.

How might you interject praise into your daily leadership?

What praise suggestions can you add?