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!