Perhaps the better question would be is your lack of leadership creating negativity? Or is there a characteristic missing from your leadership that causes negativity in your organization?
I like that last question best because you can be an effective leader in some ways but if you’re missing the key ingredients of sincere recognition and consistent feedback then you’re missing the point of leadership.
The point of leadership is people. Authentic Leaders, and Authentic Servant Leaders in particular, focus on helping their people. They help them succeed. They help them discover their purpose and potential and then they help them achieve them.
Those leaders understand the importance of recognition and feedback. They seldom miss an opportunity to provide both.
As a leader I’ve always been consistent in providing feedback but I’ve struggled with giving recognition. I’m not a touchy feely kind of guy. Early in my career I assumed a paycheck was all the recognition someone needed.
As I’ve grown (that’s code for gotten older) I’ve come to realize that recognition is vital for a person’s mental health. It’s vital for a person to know, without a doubt that another human being sees the value that they bring into the world.
We all need to know we matter. Some people need that affirmation more than others but everyone needs it to some degree. As a leader one of your prime responsibilities is providing that affirmation. Your people need to hear it. They need to feel it. They need to see it.
Here is a crucial thing for leaders to understand. Most people, research shows that as much as 85% of the world’s population, suffer from some level of self esteem deficiency. They lack the confidence to know that they matter, that they make a difference, that they would be missed.
They need rather consistent re-enforcement of that fact.
If they don’t get it, if it’s not a periodic part of their emotional diet, then they start to doubt their value. Maybe it’s a nagging thought or little concern at first but over time without recognition it grows. It grows to the point where they become convinced that they are NOT of value.
That doesn’t make them wacky or weak; it makes them human. It happens to all of us at one time or another.
When that “unvalued” feeling persists long enough a person disengages from the leader or organization that doesn’t value them. Some will then leave the organization and the leader behind. They use what confidence they have left to put themselves into a situation where they might be valued.
But many won’t leave, they stay and simply go through the motions with their organization. They become disengaged and offer little in return for their paycheck. They can even seek to pull others down to their level. They are labeled as “negative” employees or described as having a negative attitude.
They may be negative but they were not born that way. They likely didn’t have that attitude the day they started with the organization. That attitude developed over time and it likely started with a feeling that they, and their work, didn’t matter.
That’s how easy it is for a well-meaning but sometimes thoughtless leader to foster an atmosphere of negativity in their organization.
No organization, not a single one, can afford that type of atmosphere today. As a leader you must be intentional with your feedback and recognition. I literally recommend to leaders that they put a reminder in their phones to recognize someone each day.
“Busy” is no excuse for letting your people wonder if they matter. Tell them often because there are few, if any, activities you have to do that could be more important than that.