How To Choose the Right Leadership Triggers


As leaders, our leadership triggers activate us to take action. The activities, approaches and results you recognize and celebrate speak volumes to your team. You take action. Your action affects what others see you do. What you do indicates what is important to you. What you recognize and celebrate in others illustrates what is important to you. The activities, approaches and results you recognize and celebrate speak volumes to your team.

What is a leadership trigger?

Most of us get that a trigger is the mechanism that actuates the firing sequence of a firearm. As leaders, our triggers are mechanisms that activate us to take action.

What are “helpful” leadership triggers?

Many leaders have well-defined “negative” triggers. We get activated when someone is late, fails to complete a task, and other countless negative triggers that exist. “Helpful” triggers activate us to recognize and celebrate the effort, progress or results of our team. Helpful triggers recognize those who take the desired action or produced the desired result, rather than focusing on those who did not.

Water the flowers, not the weeds

Rather than investing more energy and effort into those who are not producing the desired results or following the right timelines, consider focusing on those who do. If the budgeting process submissions are always late, then praise and recognize those who submit early or on-time.

Choose your Triggers Wisely

You probably want to be known for watering the flowers not the weeds. Recognition calls focus and attention to either the desired action or the less desirable inaction. Which do you want to focus upon? Those who take the desired action or those who fail to take action? Your recognition and celebration of those who take the action creates a culture that focuses on those who create the results.

Great Leadership Triggers for Recognition

– When someone takes initiative or calculated risks

– Helps someone outside their silo

– Illustrates a new skill set or capability

– Does regular work consistently (avoiding escalation) – remember to recognize these people

– Creative solutions – by recognizing these people, you will get more of them

– Taking responsibility

– Providing helpful feedback – if someone speaks up on a conference call – thank them

– New ideas

– Effort above & beyond the norm

– Willingness to learn

– Quality of work, accuracy

– Leaving the comfort zone

Great Leadership Triggers for Celebration

– Hitting milestones

– Camera moments

– Award or progress submissions

– Client feedback

– Meeting deadlines, early submissions

– Meeting or exceeding budget

– Process/policy improvements

– Accomplishing an objective

– Delivering value

– Implementing innovations

What triggers you?

Align what triggers you with the culture and results you desire. If you want action toward a strategic plan or specific goals – recognize and celebrate that action. More of that action will follow.

Bonus Tip

Some effective leaders choose a trigger for each day of the week for the first 21 days. Leaders build recognition and celebration into their daily practice, always reinforcing the action, effort, and results they desire.



Each person has a natural communication style.
Understanding yours can and will impact how effective you are when dealing with friends, co-workers and clients.

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