Chapter 21

Are You Too Harsh?

This chapter and the next are really about each end of the spectrum. There are leaders that don’t acknowledge progress at all, and then there are those that acknowledge everything, everywhere, even when it isn’t appropriate. Neither is particularly courageous. Both are extremes that do not solve problems but instead tend to create them.

Before you read much further, it would be helpful to evaluate which end of the continuum you tend to favor. Do you lean toward the end of the line that doesn’t acknowledge progress or the end that gushes with effusive recognition? While I’m certain you would like to believe you’re right in the middle, I’m pretty sure you’re not. Even if you do your best to perform in a balanced way, all of us have a tendency to go one way or the other. So decide which side you think you exhibit the most.

This chapter deals with those who don’t acknowledge progress enough. You live in a goal-driven, accomplishment-focused culture. “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” is not just some old Janet Jackson song, but a regular tune sung by leaders every day. The instant a goal is accomplished, another one pops up to take its place. A lack of acknowledgment can destroy future progress.

A sales organization was having trouble motivating its sales team. It seemed that they just couldn’t achieve big numbers. Upon investigation, the sales manager realized that every time the sales team neared their current goal, either the pay plan changed or the ...

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