Recognize and reward the behaviors you want to see repeated.  This is a universal and timeless principle of leadership. Professor Michael LeBoeuf called it the “greatest management principle.” Maybe, maybe not, however it is an extremely powerful idea. Therefore, none of us were shocked when we discovered it as one of the best practices of High Performance Organizations. If you want to change a culture quickly, here’s how we say it… Honor Values in Action.

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You may already know the story – after writing the book, Chess Not Checkers, I was challenged to create something to serve as more of a “How To” manual for those who wanted to create their own High Performance Organization. My response: the Chess Not Checkers Field Guide, co-authored with Randy Gravitt. The following is an excerpt from the guide on today’s topic.

Affirmation leads to accomplishment. Unfortunately, many leaders fail to recognize the power of a positive word to align the behaviors of their team members. While everyone likes a raise, or even a bonus for hitting a target, affirmation can be just as powerful as a financial incentive.

Performance improves when praise is given. Conversely, leaders are never persuasive when they’re abrasive. High Performance Organizations usually benefit from a culture of encouragement, not one of criticism. But performance is not the only place where affirmation works. A timely word of encouragement can be equally effective when it comes to driving values. Plato said, “What is honored in a country is cultivated there.” In other words, affirmation increases action.

Have you taken the time to identify the values of your organization? Are your values being clearly communicated to everyone who is a part of your team? Better yet, are the right behaviors being reinforced at all levels? Leaders are responsible for keeping the values cascading throughout the organization.

Values always drive behavior, and your current behaviors are perfectly designed to give you your current results. If you want something different, you are going to have to do something different. You will never borrow, budget, or buy your way out of a problem you behaved your way into. The only way to get to a better place is to change your behavior. Start by identifying the right values and then encourage everyone to live by them.

If you are seeking greater results in your organization and you want to influence the way people act, recognize and reward those who embody the values.[GLS_Shield]

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.