Freelancers for charities

Praise and shine!

Posted by Tony on 23/05/2021

This is the second in a series of blogs for Blume based on dialogues with people I have worked with to support my work with leaders on Blume.

These blogs need to be authentic to have value. But I’ve come to the conclusion that they need to be anonymous. The people I’ve spoken with, whose experiences I am sharing, have signed off on what you’re reading.

‘That’s just not something leaders should do’, a friend and colleague remarked. 

They had just been told by the project leader that they were getting too big for their boots, in so many words.  This despite – or perhaps because – they had just shared some great work to the acclaim of everyone attending.

Leaders shouldn’t just share the praise, but focus all the appreciation and recognition on those who have delivered and made things happen.  Any praise they get as a result is reflected and incidental.  And all the better because of it.

The thing is, all too often, leaders cut others down to size.  They just can’t stand it when others shine.  This isn’t usually conscious, and seldom ‘meant’.  A chance remark, an impulsive comment, a cutting gesture wrapped up in humour.  The specific incident matters less than the pattern of behaviour – but it does matter, because it stings and it hurts  

There’s a name for this: it’s called Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Dr. Rumeet Billan’s study ‘The Tallest Poppy’ focuses on the experience of women in workplaces in Canada

What then to do about it?  There’s no doubt that this speaks to the fundamental generosity of spirit of individual leaders.  But such generosity can be cultivated and encouraged. 

At the very least, ask your team – anonymously if need be – whether they recognise those behaviours as the way we do things around here (as part of the culture of your organisation).

And the next time the opportunity arises, check yourself, be conscious of what you say and don’t say: above all, be on the look out to lead by example.