How to Lead and How Not to Lead – One more in a periodic series 

Apparently people need to feel appreciated. But, as a person who occupies a leadership position with no intention of actually leading, you don’t have time for what people need. You pay them to do their jobs. A paycheck is all the appreciation they are going to get from you. 

As a non-leader in a leadership position you know how silly it is to recognize people for a job well done. It’s ridiculous to express appreciation to people who merely did what they are supposed to do. It’s not your job to play nursemaid to people who need to be constantly reminded of their value to the organization. 

If the paycheck they get isn’t enough recognition then that’s their problem not yours. Somebody promoted you into the leadership position you’re now in. They must agree with your thinking about silly stuff like recognition and showing appreciation. You’re on track for another promotion so keep up the crappy leadership!

Or…you could stop thinking in terms of promotions and start thinking more like a leader. 

Authentic Leaders go out of their way to observe the people they lead so they can catch them doing the RIGHT things. Then they reward them for it with verbal or even written recognition. 

Recognition provided in written form, like a short note for instance, has much more staying power than mere verbal recognition. While I encourage consistent verbal recognition the occasional hand written note has power that should not be underestimated. 

People will hold on to that note a long time. They will share it with family and friends. It is validating for them. It’s confirms their hope that they matter and that someone else realizes it too. 

Verbal recognition and appreciation is great but written recognition and notes of appreciation are even greater. It costs so little in terms of time but it means so much for the people on the receiving end. 

Being an Authentic Leader requires a great deal more effort than just occupying a leadership position. It requires that the Authentic Leader have to courage to show they care. It requires that they see the people they lead as human beings. It requires that they invest time in their people and work to help their people succeed. And it requires that they be generous with their recognition of, and appreciation for, their people. 

Their reward for that effort is engaged and committed followers. Something the “pretend leaders” who won’t make the effort to actually lead will never have. 

Some of you know that I’ve been trying out something relatively new over on Twitter. It’s called SuperFollow. That means I post some tweets that are for subscribers only. The tweets I post for subscribers are video only. I post two each weekday, mostly on leadership but also sales and living a better life in general. I’m also way more available for questions from SuperFollowers than I can be for the million plus regular Twitter followers. The investment to see these “SuperTweets” is $4.99 a month, that’s about 17 cents a day. The videos continue to grow in popularity so clearly a lot of people think they are worthwhile. 

Not only can you invest in yourself with solid video coaching, you can also make a difference in the world too. All the income from my SuperFollowers on Twitter go to help kids with Down Syndrome. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP or on a web browser. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and what topics you’d like to see me address.

The Importance of Recognition 

All leaders understand the importance of giving their people timely and meaningful recognition. But not all leaders demonstrate that they understand that importance. Many fall into the trap called the tyranny of the urgent. They get so busy doing things that appear urgent that they allow the important things to fall into oblivion. 

They pay a steep price for that mistake. Failing to recognize deserving team members leads to higher turnover. Especially these days. Failure to recognize top talent significantly decreases their level of engagement. An organization’s most expensive employees are not the ones who are the highest paid. They are the ones who are least engaged. 

When recognition falls so does employee performance. Especially the performance of an organization’s best people. 

In a recent survey of a cross section of employees from various industries the question was asked, “What is the most important thing that your company or manager does that causes you to produce great work? Employees answered in their own words but a clear pattern emerged. 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. That is 3 times the second place answer which was “nothing.”

The survey also showed that recognition makes employees feel that promotions are fair. It spurs innovation and drives extra effort. Recognition is also the single greatest driver of positive company culture. 

None of that comes as a surprise to an experienced leader. But even experienced leaders struggle with their priorities. The urgent things that come with managing a business take priority over the importance of leading people. 

Authentic Leaders put recognizing their people at or very near the top of their daily priority list. They block time to recognize people. Their recognition goes well beyond a simple “nice job.” They can state, with great specificity, how their employee’s effort had a positive impact on the organization. Many times that recognition will also come in the form of a hand-written note. They know that investing a few minutes to jot down their thoughts increases the significance of the recognition ten-fold. 

Being “busy” is absolutely no excuse for failing to provide consistent recognition to the people you lead. In fact, it’s when your organization is at it’s busiest that your people most need recognition. And yes, I said need. Recognition is the fuel that lights their fire of productivity. It fuels their determination to excel.

It’s really this simple…if you want your people to perform at a higher level then you’re gonna need to lead at a higher level.  Giving recognition is a key character trait of a high performing leader. So stop reading and go give a deserving member of your team some recognition RIGHT NOW.

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

What Employees Want

I hope, particularly if you’re in a leadership position, that you don’t learn a thing from this post. That’s because you should already know everything in this post. It would be best if you learned it from the people you lead. It would be better than best if you learned it by asking them directly. 

But in case none of that is true, here we go. 

It’s a given that your people want a fair wage and decent benefits. When you determine what you can pay them it’s likely you do so based on what you can afford. They determine what they should be paid based on what they think is fair. You’ll likely have to meet in the middle but know that if you don’t you’ll have motivation and turnover issues galore. 

What you may not realize is that money alone is a pretty poor motivator. Once a person’s basic needs are met money becomes a “nice to have” not a “must have.”

More important than money is a future in the organization. The more defined that future is the better. Many people, especially people in the younger demographic groups, have left their companies during the Great Resignation precisely because they couldn’t see a future with their current companies. If you want engaged and committed employees then work with them to chart out potential opportunities for them within your organization. 

While employees may not go the extra mile for mere money they will give you extraordinary effort in return for earned recognition. The expectation of recognition on the part of employees who have earned it does not make them divas, it makes them human. 

Organizations with enthusiastically committed employees have systems in place to make recognition intentional. Haphazard recognition can be as bad as no recognition, especially for the unlucky individual who earned it and didn’t receive it. Don’t allow recognition to be a matter of luck in your organization. Be consistent in giving recognition and your people will be consistent in responding. 

Everyone needs to matter and everyone needs to know that they matter. The most effective way to show your employees that they matter is to listen to them. They have opinions and ideas about the organization and how it could be better. LISTEN to them. When employees determine that their voices aren’t being heard they disengage. If you want disengaged employees give them a check and ignore them. But don’t blame them, their lack of engagement is on you for failing to show them that they matter. 

They simple act of listening, really listening, to what your employees tell you is also a sign of respect, which is another thing employees crave. 

Finally, the big one. Employees want to know how they are doing. They want to know it more than once a year. They want to be crystal clear on exactly what is expected of them and how those expectations will be measured. Not knowing what is expected of them is the number one reason people give for being frustrated with their organizations. Most say they would rather be told they are performing poorly than being left to wonder what their boss thinks of their performance. 

I hope you knew all that already. But knowing and doing are two different things. It’s good to know what your people want, but you must provide it to them if you hope to have the kind of people who will help your organization grow. 

So they question isn’t did you know this stuff, the question is are you providing this stuff. 

Answer honestly or there’s no need to answer at all! 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

You’d Better Do More Than Say You’re Listening

4.3 million people quit their jobs in September as the “Great Resignation” continues to pick up steam. This as thousands of companies continue to pretend that this won’t have any impact on them. 

In a recent survey of people who quit their jobs within the last 12 months a full 79% reported a major reason for leaving was the feeling that their efforts were not appreciated by their organizations. 

But the question is, where did that “feeling” of no appreciation come from?

In many cases it came directly from “management” not listening to their employees. I’d hazard a guess that many of the companies that lost employees told their people that “we are listening” to you. Some likely made a big deal out of their desire to listen to their employees.  They encouraged their people to “speak up.” 

Maybe those companies actually listened and maybe they didn’t. And therein lies the problem. The employees have no idea if they are being listened to because they receive no feedback on their suggestions, questions, or complaints. They don’t see any changes come about because of their efforts to communicate. 

The lack of change or feedback leads people to believe that management doesn’t value their input, experience, or knowledge. Looking at it objectively I’d have to say the people are almost certainly right. 

It’s always been that way to some extent. Today, for a variety of reasons, people are more likely to leave the company than put up with it. 

To be clear people are quitting their jobs for a wide variety of reasons but if you don’t solicit input from your people they are likely to leave faster. If you do solicit input and then appear to do nothing with it they leave even faster. 

If you are a leader in your organization you must make certain that EVERY suggestion, question, or complaint is responded to. You must make every effort to receive those suggestions, questions, or complaints with an open mind. You must be willing to guarantee that no matter the feedback from employees there will no retaliation of any kind. 

Most of all you must be willing to change what makes sense to change. You should also be prepared to explain, with some detail, why something cannot change. 

Explaining a policy or why things are done a certain way does not make you a weak leader. Someone asking why something is done a particular way is not challenging your leadership. In most cases they are trying to help. They are trying to make a difference. 

Communicating with the people you lead makes them feel valued. Feeling valued is more important than money and benefits. It’s so important that people would rather quit their jobs than sell their souls for a paycheck. If you’re running a business and you haven’t figured that out yet then you best be buying a whole bunch more “help wanted” signs cause you need a lotta help.

Some organizations will indeed be impacted less by the Great Resignation. That’s because they do more than merely listen to their people, they do something with what they have learned by listening. 

Recognizing People

When Ronald Reagan was running for re-election to the Presidency of The United States he made a stop at a nursing home to chat with some of the residents. During a conversation with one gentleman in a wheelchair the President asked him if he knew who he was. The gentleman leaned forward in his wheelchair and gave Reagan a long look. Then while shaking his head he said “no, no I don’t know who you are but if you ask the nurse at the end of the hall I’m sure she’ll be able to tell you who you are.” 

 

I’m not certain that the story is true but I like it and it kind of fits with my post so I thought I’d share it. It only kind of fits with my post because this post is about recognizing people…just not that kind of recognition. 

 

This is a post about the importance of recognizing people for their efforts. The kind of recognition that Authentic Leaders regularly provide their people. 

 

I know the importance of recognizing another person’s efforts. The research shows that it is vital. People need to know what they do matters almost as much as they need air and water. 

 

And yet I struggle in this area. 

 

I struggle with this because I, like most people, fall into the trap known as the Tyranny of the Urgent. 

 

I do things that seem urgent to me rather than doing the things that are truly important. A very wise person once told me to never underestimate the absolute unimportance of nearly everything I do. Most of the stuff we do everyday won’t matter in 1 year, 5 years, or at the end of our years. Yet we do many of those things at the expense of the things that will matter.

 

Showing another person that they matter by giving them honest and sincere recognition is one of the most important and lasting things you can ever do. 

 

It doesn’t take much effort to find valid reasons for recognizing someone if you’re interested in trying. You’ll also quickly discover that recognition builds morale and improves attitudes. If you want to make an even bigger impact on someone then don’t just say it, write it on a note card and give it to them. Most people will look at it multiple times and even show it to family and friends. 

 

While it doesn’t take much effort to find reasons for recognizing someone it does require tons of discipline to do it consistently. Make the effort, it’s one of the nicest things you can do… for yourself.

 

In his 1936 book entitled “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie said to “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” 


It was outstanding advice then and its outstanding advice today

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!