It’s easy to see in retrospect, but why do we have to look back to see it?
For me, it’s almost always a lack of courage to voice it.
Gratitude and appreciation for those around you is critical for a leader. The trust it helps create is essential to the accountability and difficult conversations you need to be able to have in the future. I think most leaders recognize the importance of expressing gratitude, but I think most of the people we lead would also agree that they don’t receive it enough.
The question is why:
Why do leaders dismiss a job well done?
Why Should We Care?
Let’s begin with the first question: why do leaders dismiss a job well done?
The most common response is that the people are doing what they’re supposed to do. They shouldn’t need to be told, “good job” for something they are supposed to do anyway. While I was somewhat raised under this philosophy, I now recognize how important it is to encourage the mundane and boring.
Which, if you think about it, should be obvious. We like to think that excellence lies in the great performances and highlights. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Consistency wins. And, consistency is in the everyday. If we stop recognizing and honoring that, then those we lead begin to lose value in the importance of the very things that drive our excellence.
Another reason we fail to share our appreciation is a personal flaw - we lack the courage to do so. I know, I know … you’re the leader. You rose to this position because of your courage. Yea, yea … this is different. Now you need to be open and vulnerable. Telling a team member what an incredible job they did on their last project may infer that they could possibly be better than you at that task. Or it could make you sound soft, touchy-feely, mushy!
Guaranteed - the longer you lead, the more you realize the importance of relationships. In order to build relationships you need trust. And, there is really only one way to trust and that’s through vulnerability. Call it soft if you want. Those that know would consider it the greatest strength of a leader.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
The action steps to help with this is difficult because it comes back to individual decisions in the moment, requiring our courage to answer the bell time after time. Here are a few ideas to help you consistently call on your courage.
Saying thank you seems like a simple thing to do, and it is. I encourage you to go beyond thank you. Let those around you know exactly what it is they do that you appreciate. Maybe it’s their smile or their consistency, but the more specific you can be the more impactful your gratitude.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.