"Today many American corporations spend a great deal of money and time trying to increase the originality of their employees, hoping thereby to get a competitive edge in the marketplace. But such programs make no difference unless management also learns to recognize the valuable ideas among the many novel ones, and then finds ways of implementing them." --Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
"There are two things people want more than sex and money -- recognition and praise." --Mary Kay Ash
A leader makes other people feel important and appreciated. The leader excels at creating opportunities to provide rewards, recognition, and thanks to his or her staff.
A leader creates a work environment in which people feel important and appreciated. The leader leads the team in their ultimate goal of serving their customer with a superior product or service.
Along the way, to facilitate this service the leader makes sure that employees are treated as they want to be treated.
How Leaders Make People Feel Important Through Rewards and Recognition
A key leadership trait is the ability to inspire followership. In addition to supplying a shared vision and direction, leaders must develop a relationship with the people they inspire to follow them. Only through attracting followers is a leader successful in their role.
The successful leadership relationship inspires people to become more than they might have been without the relationship. Following an effective leader, people accomplish and achieve more than they may ever have dreamed possible.
The foundation of this successful relationship is the leader’s ability to make people feel important. (Sure, money and other benefits work to a certain extent, although, since money is a limited quantity in most organizations, you shouldn't overemphasize its importance.)
An outstanding leader understands that this is how he or she best encourages their employees' laser-like focus on fulfilling the needs of their customers. Employees who are rewarded, recognized, and thanked for this service provide the best customer care.
Actions of an Effective Leader
An effective leader needs to demonstrate these practices.
Pay attention to people using common courtesy.
Say good morning. Ask people how their weekend turned out. Ask whether Rebecca won her soccer match. Ask if the employee is feeling better. Practicing simple courtesy is a powerful relationship-building tool. Practice it with your reporting staff and others every day.
Listen to what your coworkers, peers, and staff members have to say.
Listen giving full attention to the person seeking your attention. If you can’t pay full attention and listen actively, set a time with the person to meet when you can. You gain much information from the ideas and opinions of others. You make people feel special when you listen to them without distraction. Know that Rebecca has a soccer match.
Use powerful, positive language in your interaction with others.
Say "please" and " thank you" and "you're doing a good job." Say, “We couldn't have accomplished the goal without you.” “Your contribution saved the customer for the company.” Powerful, positive recognition makes people feel important. Powerful, positive recognition encourages your employees to contribute more of the same work in the future. And, isn't this what you want?
Put praise in writing.
A thank you note to the employee, with a copy to his or her file, magnifies the impact of the recognition. People have been known to display a thank you note or letter of recognition on the wall of their cubicle for years. Seriously, the impact is just that powerful.
Keep your commitments to staff.
If you have a meeting set up for Tuesday, attend the meeting. Cancellation should not occur except in a true emergency. Promised Pat a raise? Don’t do it unless you know you can keep your promise. Setting up weekly one-to-one meetings with your reporting staff? Block out the time as if it is sacred—because to them, it is. They save up things to talk with you about all week long.
Give your staff public credit for contributions.
You didn't think up the idea for senior staff review. Instead say, “Mary thought this approach would work well and I agree with her.” “The credit belongs to John. Isn't that a terrific idea?”
Leadership Is a Powerful Practice—Done Well
You may think these actions sound a lot like leadership by the golden rule. You’re right, although a new description is making the rounds in consulting circles. It's an even more powerful rule—the platinum rule. In the golden rule, you treat others as "you wish to be treated." In the platinum rule, you treat people as "they wish to be treated."
These are powerful, yet simple, ways you can reward and recognize people. These are powerful, yet simple, ways to make the people you employ feel important and appreciated.
The Bottom Line
Believe people are important. Act as if you believe people are important. People will feel important. Important people will serve the customer in stunning ways Important people will think of you as a great leader.
Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style
Much is written about what makes successful leaders. This series will focus on the characteristics, traits, and actions that many leaders believe are key.
- Choose to lead and practice adaptive leadership.
- Be the person others choose to follow.
- Provide a vision for the future.
- Provide inspiration.
- Make other people feel important and appreciated.
- Live your values. Behave ethically.
- Leaders set the pace by their expectations and example.
- Establish an environment of continuous improvement.
- Provide opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
- Care and act with compassion and communicate positive mental health.