I liked this (via Tom Peters, taken from Nine Lies About Work):
“Positive attention is THIRTY TIMES more powerful than negative attention in creating high performance on a team…So whilst we may occasionally have to help people get better at something that’s holding them back, if paying attention to what people can’t do is our default setting as team leaders, and if all our efforts are directed at giving and receiving negative feedback more often and more efficiently, then we’re leaving enormous potential on the table. People don’t need feedback. They need attention and, moreover, attention to what they do the best. And they become more engaged and therefore more productive when we give it to them…
…Therefore a focus on strengths is what creates growth. The best team leaders seem to know this. They reject the idea that the most important focus of their time is people’s shortcomings, realising instead that in the real world, each person’s strengths are in fact her areas of greatest opportunity for learning and growth and that consequently time and attention devoted to contributing to these strengths intelligently will yield exponential return now and in the future.”
It’s funny that since setting out on my own ten years ago now I think I’ve received more positive affirmation for my work than I ever did whilst working in corporate world. The power of positive attention makes a whole bunch of sense.