Leadership Nudge® – Praise the Behavior – David Marquet
David Marquet - Intent Based Leadership: Create Leaders at Every Level

Leadership Nudge® – Praise the Behavior

Praise the behavior that you want repeated.

Carol Dweck wanted to know if the kind of praise that children received affected their desire to challenge themselves. It turned out that it did.

Brooklyn 5th graders were given an easy puzzle to solve, which they did. They were then randomly praised in one of the following ways:

  • Half were praised for their intelligence – “Oh, you must be smart at this.”
  • Half were praised for their efforts – “Oh, you must have worked hard at this.”

The children were then given a second test and a choice – they could choose either a harder test, which they were told they might not succeed at, or the same easy test that they had before.

Of the children who were praised for their intelligence, less than half chose the harder test.

Of the children who were praised for their effort, over 90% chose the harder test.

So, when giving praise, praise people for their effort, like resourcefulness, attention to detail or grit, – and not for their intelligence.

Praise the behavior that you want repeated.


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