Leadership lesson: When you praise, do it right

Donna Torrisi, executive director of the nation’s largest nurse-led network of primary care clinics, believes “it’s really important that people who are in leadership positions learn from people who are experts in the field, because it’s very complicated. It’s way more complex than I thought.”

During our Executive Q&A interview published in Sunday’s Inquirer, I asked Torrisi, a nurse practitioner, what she had learned.

“I learned that you don’t supervise everybody the same, and you don’t supervise them the way you want to be supervised,” said Torrisi, executive director of the Family Practice and Counseling Network in Philly.

“You have to really look at who they are, and what their individual needs are. I learned about how to get good behavior out of people by making sure you tell them what they did that was so good, and why it was good, and what impact it had on other people. So, taking things further than just saying, ‘Yeah, it was  a good job.’ Instead, you say, ‘You did a good job leading the meeting. This is what you did. This is, specifically, what you said. Did you see how so and so reacted to that? This is the impact it had on the group when you did such and such.’ ”

Do people respond to that?

People glow when you give them that. First of all, they glow when you say something positive, but then when you take it to a point of really explaining what they did, you’re more likely to see that behavior repeated, because we’re human beings and we like to please.

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