“Management is the most noble of professionals if it is practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn & grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of the team.” – Clayton M. Christensen
Management is indeed one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life thus far, and it is the leadership aspect I enjoy the most. An old mentor of mine once described leadership as the art of convincing others to want to do something you are convinced needs to be done.
I recently had a breakthrough of sorts, that did not come from the typical business book I would read. It came from a combination of learning from the 5 Love Languages and reading about American Psychologist B.F. Skinner.
B.F. Skinner learned how to train animals to do amazing tasks. He could train mice to climb ladders, and train pigeons to fly to predetermined locations. How did he do this? Through reward systems. When a mouse would be remotely close to the ladder he would get a treat. When his paw touched the ladder he would get another treat. So on and so forth. What Skinner learned was that he needed to watch behavior intently and when the animal was close to the behavior Skinner desired he would give them a reward. This reinforced the Habit Loop.
After reading this article on divorce I decided I needed to read more about successful relationships, which led to picking up a copy of The 5 Love Languages. After reading over this book I began to realize a gap in my leadership and the rewards I have been using to build strong habits within my team at work. When trying to reinforce good habits I exclusively use “words of affirmation”, but rarely use any of the other “Languages” Gary Chapman describes in his book.
So the challenge to myself in the coming weeks is to pick a different “Language” each week to reinforce habits, and see which works best for my teammates. This means a week of high fives (physical touch). A week of taking time to grab tea or go for a walk (quality time). A week of giving a handwritten note or healthy snack (gifts), or taking something off their plate (acts of service).
This is all in pursuit of practicing leadership/management well and learning what works best for different people. What is your favorite way to receive recognition?
Language by corpus delicti from the Noun Project