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How do you push people without killing morale?

I recently read a piece by Christian Bonilla over on Smart Like How about pushing people without killing morale. I particularly enjoyed this bit about energy and enthusiasm as a bank:

Think of the energy and enthusiasm of your team as a bank with high interest rates. When you borrow from the energy bank, it takes time to pay off that loan. You have to let reserves build back up. Borrow too much or for dumb reasons, and the bank will cut you off.

The whole article is worth a read. Christian emphasizes another piece that I think might even be understated.

The goal is to make the person understand the need so that they take ownership of the assignment and get it done. If you have to force someone, that means they’ve refused to take ownership and you’ve got a potentially toxic situation on your hands.

The best leaders do three things really well:

  1. Set a standard of excellence on the team that drives everyone forward.
  2. Describe what the future should/could look like.
  3. Provide frameworks and tools so that team members can self-evaluate their progress.

If you have all three things in place, you’ll rarely have to force anyone to do anything. If you have to “pull rank” (to quote the article), look back through the list above. I would bet at least one of the three items wasn’t detailed enough.

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