The No Recognition Zone

If you’re in a leadership position then you must know this absolute fact: people need and respond to recognition. If you’re actually going to lead however you must do more than know it, you must actively practice the skill of recognizing those you lead. 

 

People have needed recognition since…well since Adam complimented Eve on her choice of apples….okay, so that didn’t work out so well but you get my point.

 

It’s amazing to me that even though they know this fact so many people in leadership positions fail to recognize their people for their efforts. I guess they just get busy or they think their people already know that they are important to the organization. (I’ve used those two poor excuses myself)

 

But the most effective leaders are never too busy…or lazy, to recognize their people. They are incredibly intentional and consistent with recognition and compliments for their team. They make it a point to look for reasons to compliment; they make it a habit to recognize someone on an almost daily basis. 

 

Authentic Servant Leaders create a culture of recognition within their organizations. They understand that recognition helps keep their people engaged and motivated. 

 

As a leader you simply cannot afford to fail in this area. You must set aside time in your day just for this purpose. I often ask leaders of organizations what their greatest asset is within their organization. They almost always say it’s their people. 

 

Then, in very nearly the next breath, they tell me that they don’t have the time to consistently recognize their people. When I point out that spending time on less important things while pretty much ignoring their greatest asset is not a great recipe for success they realize the mistake they have been making.

 

Don’t make that all too common mistake, plan some recognition time into your day. Encourage others on your team to recognize their fellow team members, make your organization one where even the little successes are celebrated. If the recognition is done with sincerity it never gets old. 

 

If your organization is known as a no recognition zone, well that kind of environment gets old pretty darn quick. 

 

So right now, reach out to someone in person, through a phone call or even an email and let them know they matter, let them know you recognize and appreciate them and their efforts. 


It truly takes so little time when compared to the value it will add to their day. So go ahead …do it now!

The Lost Art of Thank You Notes

So, in my last post I wrote about saying “Thank You.” As powerful as a sincere verbal thank you can be it’s magnified tenfold when it’s written down. So I want to take my last post a step further and suggest that you do more than merely say thank you, I’d encourage you to at least occasionally write your “Thank You” down, like in a note, with a pen, handwritten. Just like the old days.

 

I know that seems really old fashioned to a whole lot of people reading this and it may seem like a huge waste of time when you can just send a quick email or an even quicker text. But I assure you, it’s anything but a waste of time. 

 

You may think taking the extra five minutes to hand write a card and toss it in the mail (for those of you who have never done this “the mail” is those blue kinda curvy topped boxes you see sitting on street corners here and there) is a waste of time but I’m betting big time that if you received one you wouldn’t think it was a waste of time at all. You would appreciate, maybe greatly appreciate, the extra effort it took the person to send it to you. 

 

There was a time when I frequently suggested to people that they send 7 Thank You cards a week. I used to do that religiously; I’ve somehow gotten away from that and it’s truly a shame. People used to comment to me all the time about how much they appreciated the thoughtfulness. 

 

I still send a fair amount of “Thank You’s,” I just do it by email and I almost never hear a word about thoughtfulness. 

 

So I just went and bought a box of Thank You Notes (it was nice to see they still sell them in stores) and a book of stamps. It’s positively retro! I’m going to start slow and commit to sending one a week, every week. I’ll try to do more but over-committing is a sure way to kill any momentum I might develop.

 

Will you join me in rediscovering this lost art? No one’s handwriting is worse than mine so don’t try using that as an excuse; like those Nike people say… Just do it!


My grandfather used to sell cards in his store, I still remember a sign by the cards he sold. It said “Costs so little yet means so much.” Those words still hold true today; make a difference in someone’s life today, drop them a note and let them know they matter.


Two Little Words

Sometimes little things can make a big difference. Sometimes, when combined with another little thing they can make a huge difference. Such is the case with two little words, thank and you. 

 

Now “thank” almost doesn’t sound right alone. About the only way it makes sense is when used in a sentence like “remember to thank someone” or something like that. We can add an “s” to the word which makes it far more useful but all alone “thank” just doesn’t accomplish that much.

 

As for “you” well that’s another matter. With just in slight change in the tone of our voice we can make “you” mean very different things. We can say it with a smile and a friendly look and it tells a person that we think they are someone special. Or…we can say it with a growl and a stern look and they almost instinctly know that whatever we say next isn’t going to be meant as a compliment. 

 

It’s when we combine the word “thank” with the word “you” that magic begins to happen. When spoken together with sincerity and conviction “Thank You” has the power to change someone’s day. It has the power to let them know that they matter, that the things they do are noticed, and that they are appreciated.

 

Authentic Servant Leaders seldom if ever miss an opportunity to say Thank You when appropriate. They do not take acts of kindness for granted. They do not take good work for granted. They do not take extra effort for granted. They do not take their people for granted. 

 

If you have not used those two little words together in the last day or so (maybe the last hour or so) then I can virtually guarantee that you have missed an opportunity to demonstrate to someone that you appreciate them. That you do not take them or their efforts for granted. 

 

Now, just to be clear, a little half-hearted “thanks” said in passing doesn’t get it done. Look the other person in the eye and in your strongest, clearest voice say “Thank You” and mean it…sincerely. 


If you’re truly looking you won’t have to wait look for your first opportunity to appear. 

People Matter

If you lead people then you undoubtedly know that people matter. What you may not know is how much they need to know that you know they matter. We humans need to know we matter almost as much as we need air to breath. If we don’t see, without a doubt that we matter then doubt is what we will do. We’ll wonder if we really do matter…to anyone.

You can tell people everyday that they matter and still leave some doubt. If you really want them to know that you know they matter then don’t just tell them, show them.

Showing that someone matters doesn’t take one bit of extra effort, it merely requires a little thoughtfulness and effort that you should already be putting forth.

It’s unlikely that any true leader would intentionally tell their people that they don’t matter, but it happens unintentionally all too often.

For instance, nothing says “you don’t matter” more than picking up a call or texting while you’re talking with someone else.  You know how you feel when someone does that to you…well guess what, most everybody feels that way too. Ignore your cell phone or put it away completely. If you absolutely have to take a call, apologize, explain why and make it quick. 

Be present with whoever it is you’re talking with. Make them feel as if they are the most important person in your world, because in that very moment, they actually are.

Never forget the value of appreciation. Think about a time when you did something nice for someone and they never even acknowledged it with a simple thanks. There are many many times during an average day to recognize someone with a thank you. Many leaders actually think it’s a sign of weakness to thank a person who works for them. It is not, as a matter of fact, Authentic Servant Leaders seldom miss an opportunity to show their appreciation for a job well done. Don’t overlook the power of those two words and how they recognize a person.

Honor every commitment. Everybody knows undependable people. They say they will meet us and they never show. They are constantly canceling lunch plans at the last minute or not confirming their plans to attend until the very last second. The message they send is that their schedule is far more important than yours. If that by chance describes you then you need to change that habit. Show the other person they matter by honoring all commitments that you make in the time frame that you make them. Doing anything else is telling the person that they don’t truly matter.

You will never meet a person who doesn’t matter. It takes only a little forethought to let them know that you know, without a doubt, that they matter to you.

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. 

 

The Rome Museum

I had the incredible opportunity to visit the wonderful country of Italy last week. We visited different regions but stayed mostly in Rome. I was thinking of titling this post The Museums of Rome but that doesn’t really convey my intended message. There are indeed many museums in Rome. In fact it seemed to me that many of the buildings were museums. Certainly many buildings held artifacts from history. 

       

But as I walked around with my wife I couldn’t help but notice people looking up, looking over and taking picture upon picture. It was then that it occurred to me that Rome itself was a museum. The whole city, every inch of it!

I was a bit amused when one of our guides would describe a building as “modern” because it was build in the 1800’s. History is all around you in Rome. You can see it but more than that, you can feel it. You can easily imagine the city 100’s or 1000’s of years ago and wonder if the people who built some of the magnificent structures thought that people 100’s of years in the future would still be marveling at them.    

I think I could spend years there and still be amazed at what I saw every single day. Then I started to wonder if that was true. Would I really marvel at the history of the city if I lived there day after day? Do “native” Romans marvel The Coliseum as they drive past it on their way to work each day? Are they in awe of what surrounds them on a daily basis? 

They should because they live in an incredible city. 

My guess is that many of them take their splendid city for granted. That’s not a knock on the friendly people of Rome, that’s a knock on all of us because no matter where we live, too many of us take what we have for granted.

When was the last time you stopped to consider all that you have? When was the last time you stopped to consider the “gift” of the people in your life. When was the last time you told the most important person in your life just how important they are to you? 

What would you miss the most if you woke up tomorrow and had nothing and no one in your life? Are you taking those things and those people for granted? 

Write down what’s important to you. Keep pictures with you of the people who matter most. Don’t let those people and things move to the bottom of your mind. Keep them on top, invest some time each day remembering how and why they matter. Show the people who matter that you don’t take them for granted and appreciate what you have while you have it, for as long as you have it.

Our world is an amazing place. Each of our individual worlds is equally amazing if we’ll just stop long enough to look around and consider our lives without it. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit Rome and Italy but as I return home I’m no less grateful for what I have here. I learned a lot on my trip to Europe, I hope one of the things I’ve learned is to appreciate what I have just a little more.