Can You Use 2×4 Leadership?

Abundance Organizational culture Organizational leadership


Key Point: Two very simple but effective leadership actions that have a BIG return on their investment are: Giving recognition AND having regular one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. Giving sincere recognition is an outcome of having a “personal growth” mind set. It is the ultimate tool for confirming the value exchange between people. There is a lot of questioning whether daily work is providing measurable value in companies today. Recognize the results you want and you will get more of it. There’s no Mensa membership required to understand this concept but recognition is still underutilized in many organizations. Regular (at least monthly) one-on-one meetings that are short, snappy AND “direct listening” oriented, help focus resources on actionable behavior addressing the business priorities. Read more to discover what I mean by applying 2×4 leadership to better leverage these two elements.

1. Recognition: Too often it is thought of as something we have to do (an additive task) versus part of how we think and act. When we constantly observe the action of others and acknowledge the positive impact they have, we not only reinforce desired activity but we also benefit from constantly sharpening our observation and personal development skills.

35 percent of workers and 30 percent of chief financial officers in an Accountemps poll cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective nonmonetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is a vital element for helping people to appreciate they are adding value.

2. One-On-One Connect: In many organizations people get so busy with daily work, they forget to check in with each other to really examine if the work people are doing is really what’s needed and valued. Who is the customer? Do internal or external customers willingly pay for the work being done? Do they really care? I often see employee survey data where it is evident that people don’t sit down for those talks until some serious redirect of activity or behavior is involved. And then the conversation is obviously more challenging for all. In most cases waiting for annual performance reviews is too reactive and too late, (and often an administrative exercise with minimum benefit to anyone).

Character Move:

Apply 2×4 leadership this way. It is simple but effective. Do your own research to see if it works!

  1. Regular Personal Recognition. Focus on your key value drivers and recognize people who are having an impact on those drivers at least four times per day or week. Make it specific AND personal. Use whatever method you want but make it clear that the behavior the associate you are recognizing is having a positive impact on the company, others, you and them. It needs to be part of what we do and who we are. Set up a process in your management system to make it a positive habit.
  2. Regular Personal one-on-one connect: Ask four simple questions in your regular one-on-ones and you will likely have a constructive discussion. They are: What is going well that we want to keep doing or do more of? What is tricky or challenging? What can we do better going forward? How can I help you help yourself get valued results?

That’s it. I don’t want to over simplify but I have historical data and lots of experience that doing these TWO things; regular personal recognition and regular personal one-on-ones (AND applying the FOUR recognitions and questions) will result in significant positive outcomes! Obviously the 2×4 leadership idea is to help provide a framework… No reason it can’t be your 2×5 or 2×3, etc. Just try it.

Using a 2×4 in The Triangle,