Catch Them In The Act

| | Leading Organizations

photog“Celebrate what you want to see more of.”  –Thomas J. Peters

It can be easy to get lost in the theory of leadership and turn it into a concept or even a lofty ideal that seems too high for some to reach.  The theory and context of leadership is of course immensely valuable, yet if you want to cultivate leadership in others you must continually build the bridge from theory to action.

One of the best ways to do that is to recognize and celebrate leadership in action.  The notion of “Random Acts of Leadership” is about making leadership simple and accessible by helping people to see the moment to moment opportunities to lead so they can seize them.

One of the best bridges between the theory of leadership and the day-to-day actions of a leader are what I refer to as the 3 Fundamental Acts of Leadership:  speaking up, stepping up and standing up.

Here are examples of how you can use these 3 Fundamental Acts of Leadership to recognize and celebrate leadership.

Recognize someone for speaking up: for being the one to say the thing that needed to be said, especially when it took courage to do so.  Then celebrate the impact their willingness to speak up had on others and/or the outcome to shine a spotlight on their leadership.

Recognize someone for stepping up: for raising their hand to not only taking on a difficult task, but for following through whether they succeeded or failed.  Then celebrate the difference they made in doing so, as well as what was learned.

Recognize someone for standing up:  for taking a stand for a person, a possibility, or even a value that transcends the status quo and continuing to nurture what they stand for in word and deed over time.  Then celebrate the steps taken and the progress made, including the setbacks that provided the most valuable lessons.

So start catching people in the act – the act of speaking up, stepping up and standing up to make a difference!

Recognize and celebrate the leaders all around you.  You might just be surprised at how many leaders there are.


Enter A Comment

Scott Mabry   |   16 January 2013   |   Reply

Great post Susan. Love these points. It’s amazing how simple acts can make an big difference in the development of others. Often we chase complicated solutions but most of what really works can be summarized in simple, repeated actions like these.

Susan Mazza   |   17 January 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Scott. We do tend to overcomplicate things. Simple is usually far more potent.

Keith Arendall   |   17 January 2013   |   Reply

I always tell class participants that we are very good at catching people making mistakes. Let’s get better at catching them doing things right.

Susan Mazza   |   18 January 2013   |   Reply

Exactly Keith!

Carl   |   17 January 2013   |   Reply

Excellent post Susan, as Scott pointed out, it is often the simplest of things that have the biggest impact. Your post caused me to reflect on leaders I have worked for – for some the recognition & celebration was second nature, it came automatically; for others….not so much.
You love being part of a team where you know you are valued.

Thanks for your work,

Susan Mazza   |   17 January 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Carl. Catching someone in an act of leadership is a great way to make someone feel valued. There’s a saying “if you want to be inspiring then be inspired”. It is those leaders who allow themselves and perhaps even seek to be inspired by the greatness in others for whom recognition and celebration is a natural expression.

Soren Sjogren   |   20 January 2013   |   Reply

Great post. Catching someone doing it right is a lot better than the opposite. However, I find that we are generally very good at just that: Catching people doing it wrong.

Leaders need to turn their focus: Embracing and celebrating the right actions should be the leader’s top priority. Doing so generates a positive atmosphere within the entire organization.

Think about it: Are you able to learn how to swim by continuously being told how not to do?

Susan Mazza   |   16 February 2013   |   Reply

Great point Soren. You can’t learn anything by being told what not to do!

Chad Balthrop   |   16 February 2013   |   Reply

I tell our staff, “What you sSee (not misspelled) is what you get.”

sSee means Service with a Smile that Exceeds Expectations. I encourage them to provide this kind of service for one another and acknowledge when they’ve received this kind of service from each other. They express their appreciation for one another more and let me know about good things that have happened even when I’m not looking.

Thanks, God bless,

Susan Mazza   |   16 February 2013   |   Reply

That’s a great context and practice for internal relationships. Thanks for sharing it Chad.

karin hurt   |   16 February 2013   |   Reply

Susan, my team and I actually have deliberate discussions of when we see people taking risks and we go out of our way to make a big deal it. It has helped a lot in building a more creative culture.

Susan Mazza   |   18 February 2013   |   Reply

Great example Karen of how big a difference a practice for “celebrating what you want to see more of” can make. Thanks for sharing it!

Nathan Magnuson   |   26 February 2013   |   Reply

Great thoughts – you included courage, responsibility, accountability, initiative, etc. all in this short list of things to celebrate. Makes too much sense!

Susan Mazza   |   26 February 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Nathan. You’ve captured the essence of the message well with the words you listed here.

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