Positive reinforcement: Getting the best out of people

Posted on October 28, 2010 by

I found this article about leadership, “Does Your Team Have the Four Essential Types?”, really helpful.  Paul Maritz, president and C.E.O. of the software firm VMware, spoke about how to get the best out of other people, noting: ” I’ve learned that you only really get the best out of other people when you do things in a positive way. There are negative styles of leadership, where you do things by critiquing and criticizing and terrifying other people. But in the final analysis, it doesn’t get the best out of people and it doesn’t breed loyalty.

Because no matter how much we think we’ve got things figured out, we haven’t got things figured out. Inevitably, we’re going to go down blind alleys. We’re going to run into problems. We’re going to make mistakes. And when that happens, you have to ask people to help you and to overlook the fact that you’ve messed something up.

Great leaders, in my view, are those who have built up that reservoir of loyalty, so that when the time comes to say to folks, “We have to change direction,” people are willing to make an extraordinary effort. If you’re the kind of leader who cuts people down and humiliates them, you leave scars on people that can eventually come back to haunt you.”

This made me think about the leaders I have known over my professional career, those who created fear and those who created loyalty among their peers and staff.  I remember best the ones who created loyalty based on how they treated others and got the work done and how they seemed to move ahead in the organization. Their colleagues all wished them well on their success. They often were the ones who had helped colleagues and staff move forward in their career as well.  Those types of leaders can be found here and there in King County right now. I hope this Frontrunners training with help identify and encourage those leadership traits in more employees, no matter their title or position on King County.

Written by Paula Harris-White who has worked for King County since 1999 and is the Administrator of the King County Civil Rights Commission, and the Employee-based EE/AA Advisory Committee.  Harris-White also serves as a member of the King County Equity and Social Justice Initiative’s Interdepartmental Team and has been an undercover change agent all of her professional life.

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