As academics and researchers, we are used to criticism.  Critical assessment is what moves our research ideas and approaches forward.  As a research leader you will be highly skilled at noticing flaws and inaccuracies.  Unfortunately, people do not develop in the same way a task or research problem.  Strengths-based research shows that people are more likely to develop through positive reinforcement.  Of course, they need to know what they could be doing better, but some development areas don’t need addressing.  Think of a sailing boat: the sails and being in the correct position to catch the wind are what drives it forward.  There may be holes in the hull of the boat, but only some of them will affect its performance.  Fixing the holes above the water line will have less impact on performance than putting wind in the sails.   

Make sure you give time frequently to acknowledge and recognise not only achievements and completion of tasks, but the process and effort.  Research is a long game, and the big successes are few and far between, so acknowledge effort, behaviour and skills development as well as the milestones achieved. 

For some advice on recognition and positive reinforcement look at: 

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