Don’t Work for Praise, but Be Generous in Your Delivery of Praise

Written by Shannon K

We have all heard the phrase below:

Work for a cause not for applause. Live life to express not to impress.

Source: Pinterest

We often times reinforce to leaders that the recognition and applause given should not be the sole motivating factor. There should be a sense of passion, and drive behind what you are doing that the recognition is an after thought.

Despite this idea and concept of not working for praise, strong leaders know that praise and recognition can do wonders for the moral, team dynamic and overall team experience. No matter how minimal the recognition given is, it is never unappreciated.

As a leader you can sometimes get caught up in providing constructive criticism. We all have different strengths and talents. This diversity usually makes it easy to identify ways that you would have done things differently and potentially achieve a more desirable outcome (also known as the “next time maybe we could try….” feedback)


That being said there is still a role for recognition and praise in addition to constructive criticism. There is a fine line between providing others with a correct ratio of positive feedback and constructive criticism. A report published in the Harvard Business Review found that the ratio of positive to negative comments for the highest performing team was approximately 5.6! This means that for everyone one negative comment (whether that be constructive or not) there were six positive comments and recognition, which contributed to the productivity of the group.


How does this all relate back to our idea of everyday leadership and Whiteboard Wednesday project. One of the main reactions that we got when asking people to write on the whiteboard how they were a leader was usually a pause and a reply that was along the lines of “I have no idea….”. What was interesting was that when two friends were approached when the one was stumbling over what to write, the other was already listing off the potential items of how they see their friend as a leader.

She is a leader because she is always willing to listen

She is a leader because she is always willing got help out





Ultimately part of being a leader is being able to identify the good in others and most of us do it naturally, but it is the next step that is some times missing. Now that you have all these wonderful things you have identified about people, LET THEM KNOW! When someone is doing a good job, let them know. When someone has really been instrumental in accomplishing a certain task, recognize them for it. When someone has stepped out of their comfort zone to task and risk, recognize their efforts regardless of success or failure.


It is one thing to be aware of what others are doing well, but it’s another thing to have the guts to say it. To sum it up, don’t work for praise but be generous in your delivery of praise!


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