Praise or Flattery? Know the Difference

We’re all inundated with the message that successful leaders give praise.  Maybe praising other people even comes easily to you.  But it’s important to remember that all of your congratulatory high-fives are not equally effective—or even welcome.

Flattery is about something that someone has no control over and did nothing to earn. Praise, however, acknowledges performance, behavior,
or character.

Flattery: “You’re a great dresser; you look like a leader.”

Praise: “You delivered a complex project on time and built solid relationships. That was first-class.”

Application: Praise is desirable but has to be earned to make a difference to the recipient. Flattery can leave people feeling
like a Cocker Spaniel who just received a pat on the head.