Constructive criticism is a necessary part of leadership, but a little positive reinforcement can go a long way.
To help us understand the concept of building up team members, we brought in Lyle Benson an Associate ProfessorMacEwan University. Lyle brings his wealth of knowledge to bear in episode #082 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
We discuss the importance of looking for the good in people, practicing the art of praise, and how building up team members can help you become more effective as a leader.
Lyle Benson is an Associate Professor in the Bachelor of Commerce Program Department of Organizational Behaviour, Human Resources and Management at MacEwan University.
Dr. Benson’s research interests focus on holistic leadership development. These include undergraduate development leadership skills, team building skills, and negotiating skills. He is also interested in undergraduate self-confidence development.
You Can get in touch with Lyle at email@example.com
Listen On Your Favourite Podcast App!
Click Here To Read The Show Transcript
00:00 – Show Opening
Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.
00:27 – Podcast starts here!
Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast where we give you the tips and the strategies that you need to help you build your leadership skills and learn how to run outstanding meetings. It’s great to have you here. And if you are a leader who really appreciates the power of positive reinforcement, then you’re going to get a lot out of today’s episode because today, we’re going to talk about why leaders need to learn how to build people up.
00:47 – Why leaders need to build people up
Gordon Sheppard: And thankfully, to help us do this, we’re bringing on an expert. It’s professor Lyle Benson. Now, he teaches in the business school at MacEwan University and he has also worked as a management consultant and a whole lot more over his multi-decade career. And one of the main reasons that I really enjoyed doing this interview with Lyle Benson, well, it came from his tone. I would describe it as what’s a firm kindness, but it’s the kind of thing that envelops you and it will really seep into all of your leadership bones right down to the core. And I think you’re going to get a ton out of this interview, so I won’t wait any longer. Here’s the interview with Lyle.
00:53 – Welcome, Lyle Benson!
Gordon Sheppard: Lyle Benson. Welcome to the show. It is great to have you here.
Lyle Benson: Thank you very much for having me.
Gordon Sheppard: It’s really a great gift. I know from the pre-interview that we did, there’s so much great information I know that you’re about to share with the audience. And really, for me, more than anything is I can hear the wise tone that you’ve got in your message, so I can’t wait to get to the message, but there’s a lot of people that haven’t met you. So, when you go to introduce yourself, what do you tell people?
Lyle Benson: I currently work at MacEwan University. I’ve been here for 30 years, but before I came to MacEwan, I was a consultant and I worked a lot with businesses, and my passion has been especially working with young people to develop their leadership skills. Instead of waiting until somebody is 50-years-old to teach them these things, start when somebody is 15 to 20-years-old, and that’s why I transitioned into university.
01:33 – About Lyle Benson – What is an effective leader?
Gordon Sheppard: Well, what a great gift. Bring that attitude to your work at that time, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m actually 52 and still learning, but maybe kind of slower than I’d hoped to when I think about it. And so I love that your attitude is to be in there and inspiring the young people as I know you do day in, day out when you’re doing your teaching. And that leads us to our topic for today, and this is the one we talked about in the pre-interview and we’re going to call it why leaders need to learn how to build people up. Now, why is it so important for you to bring that subject forward?
Lyle Benson: Well, one of the things that happens is just imagine in your own life, just think about a person who is an effective leader and think of a person who is an ineffective leader. And who do you want to hang around with? Who do you want to lead you? Well, it’s the effective leader. And what is one thing that effective leaders do? I mean, they have many, many skills, but one of the things that they do is they build people up.
Gordon Sheppard: And when you say build people up, what do you mean?
Lyle Benson: Well, one of the things that happens is that many people think that the way that I can motivate people, the way that I inspire people is focusing on their negatives to make them better. And I want people to just stop for a second and think about what if you did the opposite? What if you look for the positive in people? Would that change how you be a leader? Would that change how people do their jobs? And one of things that happens is that, in our society, we’re so used to giving constructive criticism. And don’t get me wrong there, we have to focus on constructive criticism, but if that’s the only thing we do is constructive criticism, then we’re really not helping people in the long-term. Maybe in the short-term, but not in long-term. Because only focusing on constructive criticism destroys people’s self esteem and self confidence. And as a leader, you want to increase the self esteem of your followers and you want to increase their self confidence. So, this is where we have to build people up. And one of the ways that we build people up is we focus on people’s strengths and we give them praise.
03:13 – What is ‘building people up’? – Constructive criticism vs. focusing on strengths
Gordon Sheppard: I’m just going through, honestly, a Rolodex of the teachers that I had that inspired me and they’re rare. It;s a lot fewer and the negative list is a lot longer. And when I think about my experience in the corporate world where so often there weren’t any trained managers around to have any of this type of awareness and they didn’t even, again, have the understanding of the value of this approach.
Lyle Benson: Well, one of the things is, as I tell my students at MacEwan University, I say, don’t believe me. Go and try it. Try it for a week and see what happens. I’ll give an example. First off, we just have to use common sense. I mean, if I back up my truck and smash into your car, you can’t say what a great smash it is. No, you have to give me heck. But the other thing that happens is that we have to accept people. I can’t change another person. The only person I can change is myself. So, I accept other people, but I don’t accept their bad behavior or inappropriate behavior. So, that’s where constructive criticism comes in. But here’s the other thing, start looking for the good in people. Every person that you hire does something well. Start looking for the good in people and then start telling them what they’re doing well. Start encouraging, start praising them, start supporting them.
Lyle Benson: I give an example of one of my assignments that’s for my students, and I encourage people to do this as well too. Go to your mom and dad and tell them something you like, admire or appreciate about them, and this is more than, “I love you, mom” and more than “I love you, dad,” but something very specific, some specific behavior. Now, you practice that and it will be a hard thing for many people to do because we’re not used to doing it. We’re not trained to tell people what they’re doing well.
Lyle Benson: Now, you transfer that over. Here’s an example. I work with an organization and when I went in there, everybody would run and hide when they saw the boss coming down. And the first thing I had him do was, for the first week, he had to find five different people in the organization, go up to them and tell each one of them one thing they’re doing well. And within a couple of weeks, the whole organization changed. The whole organization changed because he did that.
04:35 – Look for the good in people
Gordon Sheppard: What a fantastic insight. I mean, the thing… I’ll just pull this apart for a couple of seconds. You’re talking about, in the same way that I need to learn how to do more pushups, you can’t do pushups without actually doing pushups. And what you’re prompting leaders here to do is to actually practice the art of praise and really get into specific situations they can go home and do today, like you said, with your parents. You could do it with a friend, and then look at that insight that you just gave to any senior leader in an organization right now. This idea of that simple act of picking out those people and then telling them what they’re doing right and look at the transformation that you’ve actually experienced, it’s remarkable.
Lyle Benson: Well, the biggest transformation is going to be in the leader themselves, himself or herself. Because you know that old saying, “What goes around comes around?” If you’re building up people, eventually they start building up one another in your organization and it becomes a cultural thing. Now, this will take time, but as the role model, as the leader in your organization, you must do this if you want to be more effective. You don’t have to do it, but if you want to be more effective, if you want your organization to be more effective, if you want your people to be more effective, try it. And all I’m suggesting is try it per week. Pick out three people in your organization, three different people, go tell them what they’re doing well. And then after a week, reflect and say, “Is this organization better? Is my team better? Am I a better leader because of this?”
06:12 – Practice the art of praise
Lyle Benson: So, one of the things that you can do is always start with an opening line like, “Oh, thank you very much,” or “Good work” or “Terrific” or “Fantastic” “Outstanding” or “Keep up the good work.” And then it has to be what specific behaviors that person’s doing. I really appreciate the fact that if I ask you to work overtime, you always do it for me without complaining, or I really like the fact that your work is 100% accurate all the time. I don’t have to check your work. So, it’s the behavior that the individual was doing. Because what happens then is, you start to get to know your people as individuals.
06:51 – What goes around comes around
Lyle Benson: Now, here’s another way to practice it. You can practice it with a janitor and say, “You know what? I really appreciate the fact that you keep our building so clean.” And you know what? They smile a little bit. They stand a little bit straighter and they do a better job. And how much money does this cost you? Nothing. It doesn’t cost you any money. It takes 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and that’s about it. Rewards come back a hundred fold.
Gordon Sheppard: This is obviously a massive way to impact in such a simple way, and the payoff would be absolutely gigantic.
Lyle Benson: Oh, it’s absolutely huge, but don’t take my word for it. Go and try it.
Gordon Sheppard: I wish I was a student sitting in your class. My guess is whatever it is, how many classes later, I’d be walking out maybe a little bit straighter myself, a little bit prouder myself and wanting to do even more. What a great gift that you’re bringing out here to the podcast audience, to your students, to the people that you’re touching in your world. Lyle, if people need to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
09:01 – Get in touch with Lyle Benson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lyle Benson: They can contact me at email, BensonL, B-E-N-S-O-N-L, @MacEwan, M-A-C-E-W-A-N, dot CA. Be happy to respond.
Gordon Sheppard: Lyle, thank you so much for being on the show.
Lyle Benson: Okay. You’re welcome. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you having me.
Gordon Sheppard: After listening to that interview, I think as leaders, we all could use a little more Lyle in the world. Why not go out and build people up and give it a try? Not only will it change you and your team, it will make your business, your organization, your family way more profitable. And if you’d like to get even more great leadership tips from Lyle Benson, then check out episode 89 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called Why Sarcasm Is Hurting Your Team And What Leaders Can Do About It, and you can get that episode by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/89. And then if you’re looking for some real inspiration, check out episode 97 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called Inspiring Leadership Stories, and it features Lyle Benson sharing some of his best insights, and you can get that episode by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/97.
10:20 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
Gordon Sheppard: And I also want to let you know that this episode or the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. There, you’re going to find some really solid live training options for you and your team like the effective meetings workshop. And for online solutions, well, if you want to study on your own to build your leadership skills and, again, learn how to have even more effective meetings, then check out meetingleadershipinc.com/academy. And if you haven’t done it yet, take a moment to hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. And if you want to send a rating and a review, we will respond and it’ll influence what we put on the show for you and other people to enjoy. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
11:04 – Podcast Outro
Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
The Meeting Leadership Newsletter
Subscribe to get great tips, information and the inspiration you need to improve your meeting productivity and profitability!
Share Your Feedback
Please leave a review below, or make a suggestion for future episodes.
You can also support the show by subscribing, rating and reviewing on Apple Podcasts – or wherever you listen to the show.