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Recognition - Character

The notifications were coming in thick and fast on Wendy’s phone. Her area manager had alerted her of the problem, but she hadn’t expected it to hit social media quite so fast and furious. The lack of integrity was bad enough, but for the staff member to post it on social media was a double whammy that Wendy could do without. It had taken her years to build up the company’s reputation and it looked like one quick tweet was going to flush it away.

It’s one of the nightmares that haunts leaders. The Integrity of the organisation is the sum of the integrity of individuals. One breakdown in an individual’s character can affect the reputation of the organisation. It can also spread like a virus if the behaviour is unchecked. So how do you reduce the chance of this happening?

The most obvious answer is to tell staff the behaviour that you expect, in other words create a staff behaviour policy. This is a starting point, but the policy itself will not save you if it is not a live document. Creating the document is a bit like filling a bath. It initially has great appeal and focus, but if not kept live then like a bath it will go cold, gather scum or slowly seep to nothing through the leaky plug.

Now you can keep it live by regular reminders, but I think there is a better way.

This month’s Leadership Lounge Podcast has the topic of ‘The Power of Praise’. In this podcast we talk about the power that recognition, praising the positive that you want to see. When you praise the behaviour that you want to see, you create ‘Meerkat Moments’. Like a meerkat who turns to the direction of the noise that it has heard, people’s attention turns to when they hear praise.

So, start by considering the top 5 elements of good character that you want in your organisation. Elements like integrity (doing the right thing even if it will cost you), honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, accountability, self-control, compassion, courage or loyalty. Decide on the key ones you want to see. Discussing them with the team, talking about the behaviour that will demonstrate each one. When you see them, then recognise them privately and publicly. The key thing for praise and recognition is that it needs to be authentic. Don’t overdo it, but tell them

  • What you have seen.

  • Why you like it.

  • The impact it has had.

  • Thank them for keeping the character of the organisation in good hands.

Try this approach. Praise what you want to see. Try it for a week. See what a difference it can make.


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