A leader accepts people’s weaknesses and rewards their strengths.

Praise and recognition are the most powerful forms of motivation. Nothing encourages people to work harder and produce quality results like having their accomplishments noticed and praised.

I call praise and recognition “the secret” because, until recently, this kind of motivation was one of the best-kept secrets in business. It’s often ignored in standard management practice, but successful leaders have always known its value.

In the last few years, management has recognized the principle that great leaders — and great parents — have known all along: people re- spond better to praise than to punishment.

When it comes to motivation, adults are no different than kids. If you criticize your children every time they make a mistake — tell them they’re no good, they’re sorry, they’re lazy — then you’ll build kids who are unhappy, frustrated, and who feel bad about themselves.

Every child wants love and praise. If you praise kids and make them feel special, they’ll be happy, self-confident and ready to conquer the world. This principle works exactly the same way with adults. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Educators and psychologists have done extensive studies of what motivates people. Their results have shown that, in addition to their basic “survival” needs (a job, enough money to pay the bills, financial stability, and so forth), people also have certain “inner” needs.

Those needs are things like: 1) the need to feel that they belong to a group, 2) the need to feel appreciated, and 3) the need to feel that they are recognized for their effort.

We all have those needs at all ages. We all want to feel good about ourselves and the work we do. As a manager, it’s a serious mistake to ignore those basic needs; a good leader will always be looking for a way to help his people fulfill their “inner” needs as well as their basic survival needs.

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