Recognizing the Power of Recognition

People need to know that they matter. They need to know that what they do is noticed. They need to know their efforts, whatever they are, are not in vain. 

Authentic leaders seldom miss the opportunity to recognize their people. When there is no opportunity to recognize their people then they create one. For authentic leaders recognizing others is not a part time job, it is not something to “fit-in” or something to do in their “free-time.”

Authentic leaders are intentional and strategic with their recognition practices. They use recognition to reward, coach, and motivate their people. They know that true recognition goes deeper than the basic “nice job” and that it requires thoughtfulness and meaning.

Authentic leaders provide authentic recognition. Authentic recognition comes in two parts: the “what” or action being recognized and the “why” or how the “what” has made a difference.

Lazy leaders might toss out a nice job while crossing paths with a team member but an authentic leader will invest the time to make the recognition meaningful and lasting. They are very specific as to “what” was a nice job, why it was noticed and how it made a difference. This requires that an authentic leader put thought into the recognition of others. 

Leaders who seldom provide recognition to their people are missing an essential trait of leadership and that is almost certainly being reflected in the commitment level of their followers. Many factors can affect the compensation and benefit levels a leader can offer their people. Still more factors can affect the work environment a leader is able to provide. There are just any number of factors that a leader cannot control. That is why authentic leaders don’t let the controllable become uncontrollable.

Recognizing your people is completely within your control. You can choose daily to affirm their importance or simply let them wonder if they really matter or not. 

When you choose affirmation you choose authentic leadership. You choose to build people and you choose to build your organization. Making an intentional effort to recognize your people encourages them to push themselves. They know what they do matters and that the more they do the more it will matter. 

Authentic leaders know that there is a direct link between recognizing success and the amount of success available to recognize.

Recognize your people today and they will ensure that there is even more success to recognize tomorrow. 


16 thoughts on “Recognizing the Power of Recognition

  1. Intentional and strategic regarding recognition is the key.

    Many leaders will hand out recognition when they’re looking for something in return. In this case, it’s inauthentic.

    The leader’s actions need to be consistent. Otherwise, followers will see through this transparent behavior like a meaningless piece of drivel. 😉 (Couldn’t help myself!)

  2. Wonderful post Steve.

    There is great power in recognition and will be a natural outflow in people whose hearts are filled with gratitude and appreciation. It’s much more difficult to dole out if it’s not really ‘there’. Then all’s you simply have is a paint by numbers ‘script’ that people follow….a checklist that ensures a person is going through the motions yet with no heart in the effort.

    While recognition is important and key. At the root of recognition is a genuinely appreciative and gracious heart. For those who have it, recognition comes naturally.

    For those who don’t have it, we just don’t see it.

    Can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip and you can’t squeeze appreciation and gratitude out of a heart where it may not exist…yet.

    Great reminders Steve. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your comment. As Dale Carnegie said, “Be GENUINELY interested in other people. I would add, if recognition is not genuine then it’s basically worthless. Sad but true!

      1. In most cases, insincere recognition can be easily ‘felt’. Then there’s the matter of POLITE vs SINCERE. Many customs are taught polite superficialities. They aren’t sincere at all….merely….POLITE. ‘It’s the polite thing to say…it’s the polite thing to do in such and such situation.’

        And yes I agree with Dale Carnegie. (and you) It certainly helps to be GENUINELY interested in other people.

  3. Would anyone be willing to share how they have implemented an intentional and strategic system of recognition? What do you do?

    1. The best leaders have time blocked on their calendars to recognize people. They actually put time on the calendar, 5-10 minutes a day to “open their eyes and look for the good” – it’s a heck of a lot easier to see when we’re looking for it and even in challenging environments “good” stuff, and great effort, is always present.

  4. That is so true, Steve. Many managers and business owners only think in terms of monetary recognition. While $ is always great, there are so many ways to offer non-monetary recognition on an ongoing basis that can be just as valuable.

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