As a leader of people, we need to understand the difference. There are theories on the best way to lead people. For example, there is iron-fisted enforcement, or positive recognition and reinforcement.

Let’s check Webster on the definitions: enforce: controlling, force something to happen, make sure a rule or law is obeyed. Reinforcemake something stronger, support, help, amplify.

Both words denote getting results from an individual or team. However, the manner in which these results are achieved are very different. I am certain your people don’t wake up every morning and say, “I can’t wait to go to work today and be controlled, manipulated, or managed.” I am confident they are willing to be led by a leader who is interested in them and their growth.

I have learned effective leadership is about setting expectations, and providing them with the right environment and resources for them to achieve the expectations.

Being the reinforcer is not always just about positive reinforcement. There are times where you must follow through on your stated consequences when performance is lacking.

The challenge here is, how would your team describe you? Are you the enforcer, or the reinforcer? How is your environment for growth? Do team members feel supported and strengthened?

Think about ways you and your leaders be better RE-INFORCERS.