Examples of Noticing and Reinforcing Each Others Work, at Work.

One of the most effective ways to get the behaviour we want is to see in others is to sincerely reinforce that behaviour when it happens. In many ways this falls into the space of intrinsic motivation.

That said, providing feedback can sometimes feel like we are babying your co-workers. Get over it. We are not babying them or hand-holding. What we are doing is letting them know their efforts matter; that they are important and are making a difference.

One easy approach I would recommend is to focus on their effort and/or outcome and not make it too personal.

Here are some examples.

Awareness / Caring I

  • “Bob, you came in later today than usual. That’s very different for you so I just wanted to make sure everything is OK and ask if there is anything you might need?” Or
  • “Is that a new jacket? It is a great looking jacket.” Or
  • “How did your team enjoy the conference yesterday? They seemed really excited to attend.”

Awareness / Caring II

“I noticed you started the training meeting by reviewing the departments vision, values and how the training fits into us all achiving our goals. That really helped me focus my attention on how to use the training and where I needed to change.”

Appreciation I

“Thank you for your hard work. Your attention to detail made a difference.” (a focus on their effort)

Appreciation & Collaboration I

“You both found an interesting way to solve the problem and work together to complete the project even though you are in different time zones. Well done.”

Appreciation & Collaboration II

“Thanks for helping the marketing team get those financial numbers together. Having the finance departments input and suggestions helped clarify the expenses and potential ROI.” 

Being Clear – Getting To The Point

“You shared the objective and desired action item in the first sentence of your email. I want you to know this really helped us understand the reason for the detailed background you then provided.” (a focus on email etiquette / email writing technique)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour I

“Everyone is here on time and ready to start meeting. My thanks to each of you. This should help us get out on time as well.” (a focus on time management)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour II

“Before we close off today’s update meeting, I want to point out I noticed everyone gave each other the opportunity to speak without interruption and with an open, inquiring mind. Thank you – I think it is great how our team is really coming together.”

Reinforce Desired Behaviour III

“Bob, you worked really hard on this proposal outline and submitted it on time. It looks really good and gives each of the other managers a great foundation to all add their content while keeping a consistent objective and a consistent look for the company. Well done.”

It’s important to sincerely reinforce behaviour. If we are not sincere – it will show. It’s also important to say something as close to the behaviour as possible; don’t wait for their next performance review.

As with all things, practice makes perfect. When you see behaviour you want, especially if it’s behaviour that’s in the process of changing, try letting that person or people realize you see their effort and the positive impact they are having.

Reminders and positive feedback help others (and ourselves) visualize and recall expectations and the skills / actions associated with the behaviours we want to see / experience. The characteristics of good reminders and positive feedback include being:

  • Simple and brief (not a lecture)
  • Focused on the positive (what is), not the negative (what is not)

Little things matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

What Great Leaders Know And Do

Being a great leader requires many skills – most of which are soft skills not taught at school. So, what leadership skills do we need to know and how do we develop leadership skills?

There are four ways we develop leadership skills:

  • Nature – our personality, our natural preference.
  • Nurture – our upbringing and the values, experiences we learned growing up
  • Experiences – what we’ve learned from people who’ve been our leaders, mentors and role models
  • Training – active, formal training and coaching

I’ve had many great professional leaders, mentors and role models. I’ve also had my share of terrible. For example – one of my last bosses was never open to sharing clearly defined goals and working with the team to define and agree on clearly defined tactics. It was so bad that if ‘the team’ thought we did grasp a project vision, we were not surprised when (not if), he came into work with whole new approach… and had rewritten the previously crafted materials and strategy to fit with his new vision.What Great Leaders Know And Do

Leadership side-note… there are many articles written about how people don’t leave companies – they leave leaders. I know the last 2 leaders I had were key to me leaving the last 2 companies where I worked. I guess I should thank them.

Historically a persons analytical skills and education has been the key deciding factor when selecting / promoting leaders.  This gives very little (if any), consideration to their soft skills or emotional intelligence (fathered by Daniel Goleman) .

I could go on and on about how what not to do, but I’d rather discuss positive things great leaders know and do. So, here we go.

20 Things Great Leaders Know And Do:

  1. They are clear with objectives (theirs, the projects, the departments, the companies etc)
  2. They give others access to everything they need to succeed
  3. They believe in collaboration = team successes
  4. They don’t solve every challenge – they leave room for others to step in
  5. They realize that not every decision has to be their way. When a collaborative team makes a decision – as long as it meets the goals it should be accepted – even if it isn’t the way the leader would do it.
  6. They encourage others to provide options
  7. They provide professional development / career training opportunities
  8. They’re not afraid others will know more than they do (in fact they expect it if they hired well)
  9. Great leaders hire people who will stretch the creativity of the team and the business… and who will also be stretched by the work and experiences.
  10. They give everyone their respect
  11. They control their judgement and validate information when they feel the yard making assumptions (2 of my favourites)
  12. They manage everyone’s expectations (including their own)
  13. They are both firm and fair with their expectations and holding people accountable.
  14. They admit to their mistakes – and they call others on theirs. They see mistakes as learning opportunities – which likely includes coming up with options on how to recover from them.
  15. They forgive not-to-frequent mistakes and stay focused on long-term success
  16. They give credit where credit is due acknowledging other people’s success openly and proudly as well as the team’s success. Note: They do not take credit for others work or overstate their own successes.
  17. Their word and their integrity is critically important to them.
  18. They listen to everyone – because everyone has value and a unique perspective.
  19. They have a positive outlook. Rather than having to meet with a client – they believe they get the opportunity to listen to their client needs.
  20. They are empathetic and compassionate – they understand that sometimes rules need to be bent to support the individual… be it client or coworker.
  21. They appreciate hard work as much as smart work – because hard work builds dedication and loyalty.
  22. They are smart and confident. They have knowledge and expertise and they are comfortable sharing it with their people if / when it benefits the greater good. They never use it to grandstand.

There are a lot of moving parts to being a leader… and many of them are soft skills – behaviours that require leaders to be confident and secure in their own abilities – and to feel really comfortable giving up power and helping to build others abilities / experience.

So what we see is that a great leaders technical skill has little to do with the things great leaders know and do. Great leadership is about the values and soft skills / emotional intelligence we learn from our family, friends, teachers and even media. Great leadership is also about the values and soft skills / emotional intelligence we learn from our mentors.

The way I see it, by giving up power a great leader earns power and respect. Employees who work for micro-managers become stale, unimaginative and ultimately bored (which leads to them quitting and the organization losing everything they’ve invested in that person).

We also see that in many cases, being a mindful leader is about being mindful at work, knowing your triggers and practicing empathy and compassion. Being a great leader is something we can all ‘do’. And we are going to make a mistake – but as stated above leaders acknowledge their mistakes… just like they acknowledge and forgive not-to-frequent mistakes of their employees.

Great leaders are focused on the people and team – as well as the results. The work of Jack Zenger who examined great leaders identified the following interesting finding:

  • If a leader was ‘results’ focused, the chance of them being seen as a great leader was only 14%
  • If a leader was strong on ‘social skills’—such as empathy, the chance of them being seen as a great leader only 12%
  • If a leader was seen as being strong on both results and social skills, the chance of them being seen as a great leader rose to 72%.

* Source Psychology Today: Why Leaders Need To Be Likeable Rather Than Dominating


Personable, respectable leadership skills are crucial to your professional success. This doesn’t mean you have to be soft; absolutely not, you do have to hold people to account. Knowing how to have difficult conversations is part of being a great leader – just like being a great mentor. People will respect when you are fair – and they will respect when you hold them to task – what they wont respect is a dictator who drives a moving target or who doesn’t respect their staffs work / time / career.

Emotional intelligence and soft skills are key to a leaders’ success.

For a leader to development co-workers or clients, the ability to communicate is a key to success.

Happy communicating, learning and leading.

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Bruce Mayhew is founder and President of Bruce Mayhew Consulting a Professional Development firm that excels at quickly and easily tailoring programs to meet the unique needs of our clients and their employees. In addition to being an effective professional development trainer, Bruce is a popular conference speaker, writer and has been featured on major TV, Radio and Newspaper networks ranging from CTV to Global to The Globe & Mail.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness, Time Management and more.

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Collaborative Leaders: A Must For Collaboration At Work

Collaborative Leaders are essential to create and sustain an environment where employees work in flexible, dynamic teams. Under the leaders guidance and support, collaborative team members respectfully share information, decision-making, responsibility, learning and recognition.Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 7.58.16 AM

And while collaboration thrives in a flat environment, it still requires strong leaders. Collaborative Leaders guide highly effective team members to jointly reflect on their work habits and best practices in order to refine their approaches and abilities. Leadership creates and maintains the fundamental requirements for effective team collaboration.

5 Fundamental Requirements For Effective Collaboration:

Apart from getting out of the way of creativity and decision-making, one of the key roles of a Collaborative Leader is to make sure everyone understands the organizations values, strategy, key messages and goals for the project. Clarity in these areas will give team members confidence and a sense of direction.

The following identifies 5 fundamental requirements Collaborative Leaders must support:

  1. Collaboration must be supported and demonstrated by upper management.
  2. Collaborative Leaders share:
    • Company vision
    • Their role
    • The role of team members
  3. Team Members must have equal voice… and equal opportunity to ask questions.
  4. Team Members must share:
    • Project Goals
    • Time Commitment
    • Resources
    • Respect
    • Research / Analysis
    • Commitment to decisions made
    • Responsibility
    • Assessment
    • A passion for learning
    • A dedication for continuous improvement for all
    • Success / Outcome
  5. All discussions must be documented and shared.

More On The Role Of A Collaborative Leader

Every collaborative team requires a Collaborative Leader.

The role of the Collaborative Leader is one of monitoring, guidance and mentoring. A Collaborative Leader offers discipline; keeping the team on task – encouraging and maximizing the value of each other’s abilities and learning potential. If the team gets stuck, it’s the Collaborative Leaders’ responsibility to find creative ways to encourage fresh ideas and renew momentum.

Collaborative Leaders keep the team talking and moving forward – influencing their behavior not controlling their behavior. Leaders also share big-picture knowledge and acquire senior approvals.

Hiring / Assembling A Collaborative Team

Collaborative Leaders work together to create diverse teams, adding talent with diverse backgrounds and from multiple departments until the goals are met – at which point the team will be formally disbanded.

Team members are selected based on collaboration history, (identified during a BEI). People who strive for political gain or reward are destructive to a collaborative environment.

Not all employees will be comfortable with collaborative environments – especially the focus on individual and team learning, contribution, recognition and reward. That’s OK… Collaborative Leaders must have the confidence to pass on including an industry expert if that expert would not support a collaborative team.

Those same leaders will be reassured that the firm will continue heading in the planned – positive direction.  Collaboration is a long-term investment.

Decision Making

Normally a collaborative team will make its own decisions on how to move forward. Employees / team members debate and share until the best combination of ideas are approved. If the team cannot come to agreement and the current objectives are at risk, it becomes the leaders duty to make a decision… although it should rarely come to that.

Whether the team makes the decision or the leader, once a decision is made every member of the team understands that the decision is to be 100% supported by the team and to move on.


A study by a leading HR consulting agency has identified five employment factors that increased employee commitment and employee retention… which translates into higher productivity and lower cost (including turnover related costs). All of these five employment factors are natural extensions of collaborative work environments.

  1. Confidence in the organization and its leadership
  2. Room for growth
  3. A fair exchange (employee effort for compensation including financial reward, experience, knowledge)
  4. An environment for success
  5. Authority and influence

Happy collaboration and communication. 

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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