Nearly 40% Never Give Positive Reinforcement

For many, it’s easier to talk about what sucks than what’s great. There’s a negative voice in our heads.

Personally, you can’t speak well of yourself. Why?

  1. Humble leaders don’t brag. They talk about the strengths and successes of others.
  2. Considerate managers don’t demean others. They don’t want to make others feel inferior by outshining them.
  3. Wise leaders avoid the humblebrag*. It’s obvious, offensive, and ineffective.

A culture of beat down:

We beat down others because we beat down ourselves.

Negative feedback feels more substantial than positive affirmations. Most leaders feel more effective when giving criticism and less effective when giving positive feedback*.

In truth, many leaders don’t give any feedback at all. No feedback feels like beat down too.

A culture of affirmation:

Imagine a culture where affirmation exceeds correction by three times. What concerns you?

  1. Affirmations feel frivolous or fake, especially when people have weaknesses?
  2. People might feel they’ve arrived and stop giving their best?
  3. Your status might go down if you affirm others too much?
  4. Giving too many affirmations might make you look weak and needy?

You can’t energize people and beat them down at the same time.


Affirm team members’ humanity.

A leader told me that one of the simplest things she does receives the most positive feedback. She sends birthday and anniversary cards. She sends them in the mail with hand written addresses. All are hand signed. Many have personal notes.

A culture of affirmation treats people like human beings, not tools.

3 ways to move toward a culture of affirmation:

  1. Invite team members to tell you about their accomplishments in private. Give feedback that affirms accomplishments.
  2. Have team members brag about each other in meetings. “When I see you at your best I see you…”
  3. Honor effort not just results.

How might leaders create a culture of affirmation?

When might affirmation go too far?

PS – Had a fun chat with Kevin Kruse on The LEADx Show Click here to listen to the podcast, or click here to read on Forbes.

*HBR Source: Nearly 40% don’t give positive affirmation.