What kind of leader produces winners among his or her followers?

Former professional basketball coach Rick Pitino once said, "I learned a long time ago as a coach that you can expect great things from people who feel good about themselves. They can push themselves. They can set long-term goals. They have dreams that everyone expects to be fulfilled. People with high self-esteem are risk takers but, more important, they are achievers."

When you believe in people, they rise to greatness. One of the greatest challenges a leader faces is helping people believe in themselves! "Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel," Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton once said. "If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.

"People who have self-confidence develop the creativity to dream, the boldness to venture into the unknown and pursue their dreams, and the courage and persuasiveness to summon help along the way."

So, what kind of leader on the job, and perhaps as a parent, are you? Do you build up people or tear them down?

People builders are easy to spot. People always crowd around them. Their charisma makes them people magnets. We all know people who attract other people. They have lots of friends and followers.

My best friend in high school, Larry Fryer, was a people magnet. He was senior class president and king of the senior prom. He wasn't the typical high school socialite. He never put himself above anyone else. He followed the philosophy of Mother Theresa: "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier."

So, what is it that makes someone a people magnet? It's the worth and self-esteem that people feel when in the presence of these people magnets.

How do they do it? People magnets love other people. The word "love" in the Anglo-Saxon dialect means to "look for the good." They build up people by looking at, and recognizing, what's good about them and what they do. That's why great sales managers have teeth marks on their tongues - instead criticizing, they focus on their constituents' strengths and manage around their weaknesses. They don't try to fix their people, because most people resist being fixed.

This doesn't mean these leaders ignore unacceptable behavior. It's just that they praise about eight to 10 times more than they criticize. Most research has shown that, for people to accept and grow from criticism, they need eight praises for every constructive criticism.

In last month's article, I discussed employee loyalty. A recent study found that as many as 80% of the American workforce is dissatisfied in their jobs. A major cause of dissatisfaction is whether an employee feels appreciated in the job he/she does. If you personally recognize your heroes, you should publicly recognize them as well!

As many as 34% of good employees who had quit a job cited a lack or limited appreciation of their contributions. That, according to data compiled by Robert Half International Inc., was a primary reason for their departure.

Praise will help you hang onto talented people, when money can't. Praise costs nothing and yields big dividends. And yet the world is filled with otherwise bright people who are absolute dolts at delivering praise.

Ken Blanchard sums it up into one sentence, "Catch people doing things right." Have you ever done something noteworthy, and found that no one recognized your accomplishment? If so, how did that make you feel? Probably like the guy who wets his pants in a dark-blue suit. It gives him a nice warm feeling, but no one notices. Remember, a desired behavior will stop when someone does something good, but no one notices and nothing happens to acknowledge that good behavior.

Management guru Ken Blanchard sums it up in one sentence: "Catch people doing things right. Don't wait until people do things exactly right before you praise them."

Some people call it "positive reinforcement." To others, it's a "motivational strategy." Still others label it "common courtesy," a sign of appreciation. But most folks refer to it as RECOGNITION.

It reminds me of the salesman who had all of his sales awards hanging in his bathroom. A guest remarked how it was interesting that he kept them in his bathroom. The salesman replied, "I've learned that when people visit, sometimes they will want to use the bathroom. I've worked so hard to earn these awards that I want everyone to see them."

We all crave recognition. If you don't think this is so, just call a friend - any friend - and when he answers, say, "Congratulations" and hang up. I guarantee that he will say to himself, "It's about time someone noticed!"

Recognition triggers people's internal motivators - it makes them want to produce better. Therefore, recognition is one of the most powerful intrinsic motivators you can use to change people's behavior. It's in the DNA: decide what you want; notice when you get it; and acknowledge the behavior. That is the essence of behavior modification.

Go out of your way to notice the good that your people do and the results they produce. But be aware. As Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankee catcher said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." Tie a string on your finger or put a bean in your shoe to remind yourself that you need to give eight to 10 "atta boys" or "atta girls" for every criticism you make.

Criticism is the killer of motivation and trust. Criticism is the cause of emotional divorce (which occurs before physical divorce). It is the killer of relationships. No one has ever built a statue to honor a critic. There has never been a great leader who was also a great critic.

It is debatable whether you can truly motivate people. But, you surely can de-motivate them by playing on their feelings of insecurity or battering their self-esteem. I urge you to b

Recognition is one of the important intrinsic motivation factors. You can use it to change behavior. Three are three steps, it's in the genes; It's in the DNA: 1) Decide what you want; 2) Notice when you get it; 3) and acknowledge the behavior.

Practice being aware of the good things your people and children do. Tie a string on your finger or put a bean in your shoe. Remind yourself to give "atta boys and atta girls" in a ratio of ten to one for every criticism. Criticism causes emotional divorce (what happens before the physical divorce). It's the killer of relationships, self esteem and motivation. They have never erected a statue to honor a critic. You'll never see a great leader or manager who is a critic either.

Become a leader who builds up people. That will give you charisma and make you a true people magnet. It will also make you money, because your people will produce more.