Discussions on leadership often focus on strength, presence, and decisiveness, all important elements of effective leadership. But those are just the utilities of leadership. Genuine leadership that affects people deeply, that fills deep wells of trust, is demonstrated best in the act of generous praise. There is perhaps nothing more welcomed and inspiring to someone than an unexpected, thoughtful compliment.
During the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland, Jess Thornton from Australia carried the weight of her nation as she attempted to win the 400m final leading up to the Rio Olympic Games.
Yet, in the midst of these Olympic-level stakes, just as the competitors came to the line, she took a moment to respectfully acknowledge Salwa Nasar from Bahrain. Nasar had recently made the heart-wrenching decision to leave her native Nigeria, where poverty robs young women of talent and potential, for the opportunity to break-out and flourish in Bahrain. Her choice was a refusal to leave her potential unrealized and Thorton’s brief moment of praise reverberated around the world….