Momentum Podcast: 398

Congratulate In Public, Correct In Private

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

If you correct your team in a public setting, it drains their motivation and makes them feel attacked. You get leverage when you congratulate your team in public and correct in private. 

By simply waiting and giving correction in private you show respect and streamline communication in a way that makes everything easier. You want every one of your team members to be confident and excited about what they're doing. You want your team to rocket forward with momentum.


Full Audio Transcript

One of the concepts I coach around and make sure everyone of my clients understands is transparency, the concept of telling people what's really going on, being real with them, proactively, radically transparent and letting every member of your team know what is really happening.

However that doesn't mean that you do it in every situation, in every context and in front of everyone, in fact, when you learn one of the cardinal rules of leadership. Congratulate people in public, correct them in private, everything will change for you as a leader, this is one of the hardest lessons I've ever learnt.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution, sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so we can bend them, break them, then re-write them around our own will, we don't accept our destiny we define it.

We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how, while the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real, we are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution and we always will be. For most of my career, especially early on, I was not a transparent leader, I was actually a nervous, scared, actively non transparent leader who thought things like, I shouldn't let them see me sweat, and I can't show weakness, and I don't want my team to really know what's going on and I don't want them to know how scared I am or how frustrated I am or what's really going on form me.

In fact, I used to hide the fact that I'm dyslexic, I wouldn't tell my teams that I hated calendars, I wouldn't share with them that I had trouble proofreading, or reading a lot of numbers, or the things that are just fundamental weaknesses for me. In fact I used to try and fake it, and pretend like everything was okay.

When I learned how to be transparent my entire career shifted, when I started being honest about who I am, when I started being honest about the challenges I face as a human being, when I started telling people where I really needed help, and where I really struggled everything changed, in fact the concept of being transparent, and being radically transparent with my team changed everything about how I run businesses, and the level of success that I created, however there was a huge issue.

When I learned transparency I didn't realize that there were limitations to where you should be transparent, in fact I just saw it as the way to make it work was to tell everybody everything I was thinking all of the time, and as result I would constantly hurt team members feelings, destroy momentum and even lose team members. It's hard for me to say that, in fact if you're listening, and you're ever on my team, and I embarrass you in front of other team members, or I made you feel less than, or I made you feel like you weren't succeeding I just want you to know you have my sincere apology and if you felt like it was my fault you're probably right because there was a long time that I didn't understand this simple rule. Congratulate your team in public, correct them in private, it's one of the hardest leadership lessons to learn because as entrepreneurs when we think something we wanna communicate it, as soon as we see an issue we wanna say it out loud and tell everybody.

This just happened to me recently, I want you to know, I'm not perfect, I think about this all the time, congratulate in public, correct in private, because it will keep your team members in momentum. There was even an issue recently where several members of my team were on the same communication channel, and I didn't like how something had happened so I just told everybody at once, and it really hurt one of my team members feelings, she felt like she was being corrected in front of out entire team, and that was not my intention, it's not what I wanted to do.

It would have been so easy for me to congratulate everybody on the group channel and then individually reach out to her and say hey this is what happened, I would rather see this happen next time. It didn't even feel like that big of a deal to me, it wasn't even something I was emotional about, but because I corrected with an audience, she felt like she had been attacked in public, and maybe attacked is too strong a word, but corrected in public, is the same as feeling attacked in public.

So as an entrepreneur, the key thing for us to remember is that we wanna aggressively look for opportunities to congratulate our team in public, as entrepreneurs we don't give enough recognition, we don't give enough accolade. You wanna aggressively look for opportunities to congratulate your team in front of other team members, in front of your audience, in front of people who know you, in front of anyone else you can, you get leverage when you congratulate your team in person. In fact you often hear me talking about my team members on this podcast there's two reasons for that. One is my team is absolutely incredible and amazing and I can't stop talking about them, but two is I know that if I congratulate them in public, on this podcast, it means something to them, it imprints with them. It makes them feel good about who they are, and that's important to me. On that same token as an entrepreneur you have to learn the lesson that if you are correcting in public you are going to drain your team members motivation, you are going to frustrate them and their ability to move forward. You're going to make them feel attacked and like they've done something wrong, even though that's probably not what you're trying to do.

By simply waiting and giving correction in private, or letting people know what you really want in private, you respect them, you respect yourself, and you streamline communication in a way that makes everything easier, for you, and for the team member.

When a team member is getting corrected in public, you have two channels of communication going on, you have the communication you're giving to that team member, then you also have the chatter in their head about why am I being corrected in private, what I everybody else thinking about me, why is my status in front of my team members being reduced, why do I feel attacked right now, why do I feel like this is not necessary, or over the top, or too much?

Even if you're correcting in a kind and connected way, when you're doing it in public, all of those things are invoked, but when you do it in private, you can remove that chatter and actually be heard. John Gottman who is an absolute genius and one of the therapists in the world that I respect more than most, has written several books, and one of the concepts that John Gottman has is that this five to one rule, that we need to have five positive interactions with somebody for every corrective interaction. So we need to have five positive interactions for every one time we have something that's corrective, just to be heard. Not to be effective, not for everything to go great, not to guarantee success, but just for us to be heard, and when we congratulate in public, we actually get leverage on those positive interactions, that's part of the reason our team has a daily huddle, everyday we say we have this section called, "Who got caught being awesome?", and we all recognize each other for the amazing things we did the day before and everyone usually gets called out on the huddle for being awesome. That public accolade, that congratulations, that builds up our five to one rule, so that when we correct something our team members hear us.

Here's the challenge, the same way that that public accolade, that public congratulations is leveraged five to one rule, when you correct in public, when you have an audience for a correction you actually leverage the one out of the five to one. It actually becomes much harsher then five to one, you might have to have 20 or 30 positive interactions with somebody to be able to correct them in public and be fully heard and you're in a relationship with everyone of your team members, you're in this balancing act where you're giving them positive accolade and then corrections, because we are constantly going to have to correct our team members, nobody is perfect, we're gonna have to let them know what we really want, and so what happens is we are building up credit in the positivity bank account every time we tell one of our team members that they're doing well, every time that we catch them doing something right, every time we catch them being awesome, every time we congratulate them.

Every time we congratulate in public, every time we are building up the bank account so that we can actually be heard by that team member. You give one public correction, and you may drain the entire account, all the credibility you have with that team member, you give one public correction, you may drain all of the confidence that team member has. You give one public correction, you may make that team member feel like a failure, like they've done something wrong, like they don't really know what they're doing, like they aren't really contributing as much as they are, that is not a place where any of us as leaders wants to be.

We wanna be in the place where every one of our team members feels confident, we wanna be in the place where every one of our team members is excited to be doing what they're doing, we wanna be in the place where our team is rocketing forward with momentum, not trying to get over a public correction.

So use this strategy, congratulate in public, correct in private, build up the bank account on the five to one rule, so that you can be heard by every member of your team, and you will feel infinitely more momentum. If you're ready to understand yourself better as an entrepreneur and start 2019 in a completely different way, you should read my book, The Entrepreneurial personality type, it's a book that I wrote to explain people like us to ourselves. I wrote it to help you understand yourself better, and understand why you have the tendencies you do as an entrepreneur, I wrote it to also help you understand the strengths that you have as an entrepreneur that have been suppressed over time, and why you have experienced that suppression, and I also wrote it to show you how we can eliminate the negative loops and spirals in our lives that keep us doing the same thing over and over again, without getting the results we want, go to and right now we have a promotion if you order the book, I'll pay for it, all you have to do is pay shipping and handling.

The entrepreneurial personality type book has been read by tens of thousands of people around the world, and it has changed people's lives, I get comments all the time back that I understand myself better, I understand my daughter better, I understand my husband, my brother, my sister, my father, my mother better and I understand how I can move forward in completely different way that I never saw was possible before.

Go to The entrepreneurial personality type book may tell you more about yourself than anyone ever has.

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