If you played sports in high school, college, or even in the pros you know that on every team there is always that one, if you’re lucky two, players on your team that may not be the most valuable players on the court or on the field, but they are certainly the most inspirational players on the sidelines or in the locker room. They cheer the loudest. They take pleasure in watching their teammates score. They take it personal when something happens to a member of their team or the coach. They find ways to contribute even if it isn’t reflected on the scoreboard. When they are gone, their presence is missed in a big way.
For the sake of this piece, I am going to refer to these unsung heroes as cheerleaders. Cheerleaders don’t only exist in sports. They exist in business. They exist in marriage. They are friends and family. Some of them know you personally. Some of them have never met you. Some are vocal, and some silently applaud from afar.
Have you ever hung around a football game after a loss? Pay close attention to the cheerleaders. After a game, the cheer squad is either on the sideline cheering or they’re at the tunnel or bus greeting their player with smiles and chants as they return. Win or lose, their job is to do one thing: cheer.
You need to be the biggest cheerleader in your organization. When I refer to cheering, I am not talking about yelling out chants like, “Be aggressive. Be, Be, aggressive.” Cheerleading as I will define it in this blog is recognizing the hard work and the effort of those around you by praising them, thanking them, and congratulating them on their wins, no matter how small or large. You can do this online, offline, individually, or in groups. There are many different ways to honor someone’s hard work.
Learn to celebrate others and be happy for them. Genuinely happy.
Learn to celebrate others and be happy for them. Genuinely happy. This might take some practice on your part. It did for me. It takes a big person with a little ego to cheer on the successes of other people without being envious. It’s easy to fall into the “When will it be my turn?” trap. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. We all have, but don’t stay in that mental place. Focus on what you want. Live there. Celebrating someone else’s victory is no different than having that poster of your childhood hero plastered on your bedroom wall. Cheering for your hero on the poster was effortless. It didn’t matter that you didn’t have any of their skills, talents or superpowers. That poster served as a reminder of who you wanted to become. Let the wins of those in your organization inspire and remind you of you want to become now.
Complimenting others may feel awkward at first, but don’t stop trying. If people aren’t used to you being so supportive, they may question your authenticity. Pay them no mind. Find something positive to say about someone and acknowledge it. The best way to greet someone is with a smile and a compliment. I’ll cover more of the “How To” in a separate post. This entry, part one, will be “The Why.”
Here are five reasons you need to be the biggest cheerleader in your organization.
1. People Are Starving For Recognition
You overestimate your own use of recognition. It’s okay. We all do. Have you ever had someone tell you something negative you might have said about them, only to remind that person that you complimented them about X,Y, and Z? I won’t dare to try to explain the human brain, but most people tend to remember negative events more than positive events, and they remember these negative experiences with vivid detail. Knowing this, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that you can’t over compliment someone. You might argue that in some relationships it may come off as desperate and needy, especially when you are showered with compliments too early, but trust me, you’ll notice and miss those kind words if they disappear.
Studies show that recognition is third to 1) salary, and 2) job security, when it comes to picking a place to work. Most employers don’t recognize the efforts of their team, or worse yet, take credit for their team’s hard work. A good leader knows that when something goes wrong, it’s their fault. A great leader knows that something goes right, it was the team’s effort.
During a trip to NASA in 1962, President John F. Kennedy introduced himself to a janitor and asked him what it was that he did. The janitor profoundly responded with, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” Mic drop. That is precisely how you should treat every member of your organization. There is no role too small-especially when someone takes pride in what they do. Make it your goal this week to recognize someone on your team that deserves to hear how valuable they are to the group. It doesn’t have to be on a soapbox. Even just pulling them aside and letting them know how much you value them will be enough.
2. It Serves as Motivation
Competition is a part of life. In sports, business, and even romance, there has to be a winner and a loser. This is the ying and the yang. No one wants a participation trophy. In fact, studies have shown that when kids get token awards it has the opposite effect and makes them feel worse than losing does. So why sugarcoat the fact that someone is excelling? For fear of making other people feel bad about themselves? Horse crap.
Recognizing top producers creates a culture of winning and of friendly competition. It sets a standard for others to strive to achieve. I’ve worked with managers who won’t publicly praise their top performers because they “don’t want to inflate their egos…” and lose them to a competitor. What a horrible, cannibalistic culture that is. That isn’t how you are going to keep your top talent. Cheer them on. Make them feel valuable. Let them inspire those around them.
If God can do it for them, he can do it for you. Let the wins of your peers or colleagues motivate you.
Sharing the success of others may make you feel uncomfortable about where you are in your career or in life. I’ve been there. Not so long ago, you couldn’t have paid me to watch a show like MTV’s “Cribs” or “The Secret Lives of the Super Rich” because I convinced myself that, “I’d never afford those things anyway, so why look?” That was such a poor mindset. These days I’m hooked on shows that showcase the trappings of success yielded from hard work, and love hearing about the victories of my peers. If God can do it for them, he can do it for you. Let the wins of your peers or colleagues motivate you. There’s no shame in sharing someone else’s win or giving them a pat on the back.
3. Referrals & Partnership Opportunities
When you make a habit of paying honor to your colleagues it opens up the possibilities for them to refer business back to you. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, & Google (FAANG) don’t just compete with one another, they collaborate with one another. Don’t believe me? Google at least two of these companies as one search query followed by the word collaboration and see what pops up. If you haven’t done this before, you are in for a surprise.
Whats my point? Even if someone in your organization wanted to capture 100% of the business in your territory, they wouldn’t be able to. Why not develop a strategic alliance with that person or team and be in a position to capture the overflow? The best way to develop these alliances is by being one of their biggest cheerleaders. There are a lot of ways to do this and it’ll be covered in the second part of this blog topic, but for now, understand that people are more likely to do business with someone they know, like, and trust, versus someone they don’t know. If you’re regularly celebrating their wins with them they will know who you are.
4. You Don’t Come Off As Desperate
We’ve all made the mistake of trying to promote our business or service on social media only to come off like the guy in a bar begging someone for a telephone number. Are you a millennial? My bad. The guy in the bar begging for an Instagram handle. No one wants to be that guy, and yet we have no problem doing just that on the internet. Don’t be that guy.
Instead of sharing the “Use me!” or “Buy my product! Buy my service!” post, why not try offering up some praise to someone else in your organization. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about who has the most sales. It might be you simply offering up a thank you post to the person who makes sure there is hot coffee every morning. When was the last time you did something like that? The best part is that that person will be appreciate it and others will follow your lead by chiming in with their own praise and thank you’s. Would you call yourself a cheerleader of your organization? If not. Why not? I know that some of you will say, “Why should I be a fan when they don’t acknowledge me?” Point taken. I would argue that the minute you start complimenting members of your organization, or cheering on your company as a whole, you’d be surprised by how quickly you’ll get noticed and how different you will be treated. Every organization needs cheerleaders and the great ones have superfans.
A natural result of this is that you are still promoting your product, your service, or your business. “But Paul, I’m a sole proprietor and I don’t have any employees.” Recognize your clients. Praise the vendors that come through your doors. Thank the Amazon or the Arrowhead water delivery guy/gal for always making sure your clients are hydrated and their packages are delivered on time. When you praise those in your organization, or those who help support your business, you still win. You can’t go wrong being the biggest cheerleader in your circle.
5. Better Home Life
You can’t over compliment someone-especially not at home. If you are married you will either learn this the hard way or you’ve already learned it. Hopefully, I’ll save you some time and heartache.
When you started dating your partner, you spent most of your time focusing on all their wonderful qualities. In some cases, you magnified them. You knew about some of their faults and you ignored them, or minimized them. I want you to go back to that place. It will do wonders for your relationship. Easier said than done, I know. Some of you will contend that your partner doesn’t compliment you enough to deserve your honey dew dipped words of affection. Do it anyway. They need to hear that you appreciate them, and quite frankly, you need to hear yourself saying it. It may feel fake at first. Stay the course. Your partner will eventually take notice. Most people give up on the one yard line of success. Did I just use a football metaphor and motivational quote as relationship advice? Yes. I did.
If you have young children, you know what it’s like to praise them when they deserve it, and when they don’t deserve it. Parents unselfishly shower kids ten years of age or under with supportive dialogue like “You can do it!” or “You are so good at (fill in the blank)”. As the child gets older that praise turns into constructive criticism that may graduate to insults by the time they are young adults still living at home. I speak from personal experience. As I write this, my wife and I are dealing with the emotional struggle of having had our two eldest children in their 20s move out in the same year. Their departures were prompted by their desire for more freedom, less supervision, and the perceived notion of less responsibilities at home. I mean how could a parent possibly expect their 20 something year old child who doesn’t pay rent to take out the garbage, right? It’s difficult seeing your child leave the nest and if there is anything I learned during this process it is that we should all be more stingy with our criticisms and more generous with our compliments.
I want you to strive to be the biggest cheerleader in your organization and at home. I hope that these tips inspire you and remove any doubt that everyone wins when you honor and praise everyone around you.
Originally published at https://paulargueta.com on December 28, 2019.