Do High Achievers Need a Pat on the Back?

In a recent conversation with a high achieving CEO, the topic turned to their two senior leaders that have had a great year.  They were just killing it!  Met or exceeded all their goals and are positioned to have another great year.  The discussions evolved to, do even these high achievers need a bit of encouragement.

Let’s consider the basics.  For many leaders, giving encouragement is the fun part of leading. It’s all about recognizing contributions and celebrating accomplishments.  When you warm a person’s heart with a little praise, you’re keeping the flame of motivation glowing. This practice may not come naturally to everyone, however. High achievers, for example, may have the point of view that achievements are simply part of normal operations and don’t need to be remarked on. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by a team of high achievers. Even the coldest of hearts will benefit from encouragement delivered at just the right time.

Let me share an experience from my own life that shows how you can begin to shift your thinking to incorporate best practices.  I was at my daughter’s weekend field hockey game, having left her teenage brothers at home with a list of chores to do at the house while I was gone. The boys called me at the game to ask about a few of the chores, and after the call, a friend sitting next to me said, “Well, what incentive do you use to get your boys to do these things?” My response: “I feed them!” My feeling was that it’s what they should be doing anyhow.

But I thought about this on my way home that night and decided I probably should have set the tone a little differently.  Instead of just leaving the boys a list of demands for them to take care of on my schedule, I could have had a conversation with them along the lines of “You know, I’d like you to bring in the lawn furniture because the weather’s going to turn in the next month; I’m going to be busy, and I know you could be a big help.” I could’ve shared the vision—the big picture of why these tasks should be done—and encouraged their hearts a little more.

Even high achievers benefit from knowing the vision and a bit of encouragement!

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