Jeffrey has helped lead a number of start-ups and has dealt with his share of ego-driven CEOs. "It is pretty predictable," he explains. "When ideas prove to be great, the CEO takes tremendous pride. When things are rough, it becomes a blame game." Jeffrey then tightens a bit and further qualifies his statement, "We have a great CEO. A real creative guy. But he thrives on his success and only truly recognizes the role of our team when dealing with something that goes horribly wrong."
Jeffrey, and likely the rest of his colleagues, are not feeling motivated by their company's own successes. This is a telltale sign of poor management and the team’s culture heading in the wrong direction. The most admired leaders view success as a valuable currency to distribute to their team rather than a personal reward. Even more so in a start-up team, where everyone divides and conquers the various tasks, it is poisonous to mismanage the allocation of incremental successes along the way.
When you encounter success - recognize it as a valuable commodity to pass on rather than a personal award. Recognition is a powerful non-financial reward that, especially in a difficult economy, can help further engage and retain your team.
***This article is adapted from the research and writing of Scott Belsky and the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.