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. 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. 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.

Take the Bait

Generally speaking when “bait” is taken it turns out rather badly for whoever took the bait. I think that’s why they call email scams “phishing” attacks. Some con artist casts some bait and an unsuspecting person “takes the bait” and the outcome is less than optimal. 

Ask any fish and they can tell you taking the bait is a really bad idea. 

But not always. Because leaders aren’t fish.

Let me tell you about Larry and Harry. Harry works for Larry and has been a loyal team member for some time. He typically outworks his co-workers and Larry values him beyond measure. 

On one particularly challenging day Larry asks Harry to give even more effort than normal. Harry assures his boss that he is up to the task and sets out to get the job done. As Harry undertakes the extra workload he can’t help but notice his co-workers coasting through their day as usual. But Harry pushes through, truly giving an A Plus effort. 

At the end of his day Harry reports on his day to Larry. He tells him he got this done, he got that done. He had several issues but overcame them to get it all done. He shares that he even gave up his breaks and lunch to figure out a particularly challenging task. He reports that he is completely worn out but proud of what he was able to accomplish. 

Larry replies with the detailed results of his day as well. He managed to accomplish a ton and he might be even more worn out than Harry. 

Harry heads home for the day we three thoughts on his mind. One, he is wondering what he has to do to get a little appreciation from Larry. Two, he is thinking about his co-workers who floated through their day and received the same level of appreciation from Larry that he did…zero. Third, he’s thinking about whether or not it “pays” to put in the extra effort and whether or not he’s the stupid one for working harder than the others. 

There is not an Authentic Leader in the world that wants their people thinking any of those things. 

You see, when Harry shared the results of his day with his boss he was fishing. Fishing for a simple response, one that would feed his desire to outwork others. All he needed to hear from Larry was a sincere “Thank you” for a job well done. Instead he felt in competition with his boss for who got the most done. 

Larry failed to take the bait. Then he failed in his leadership role. 

The thing is, Larry is a pretty good leader, he just forgot that leadership is a full time job. He forgot to always be on the lookout for an opportunity to recognize his people. He forgot that failure to recognize his people can turn a high performing team member into a mediocre performer overnight. He forgot that failure to recognize his people is a fast way to demotivate his people.

It’s an easy thing to forget. But the best leaders don’t forget that their own success is completely dependent upon the success of their people. That’s why they always look for opportunities to show their people that they make a difference and it’s noticed. 

When was the last time you offered one of your people a simple thank you for a job well done? Don’t wait for the bait, do it today! 

A Word of Appreciation

One of the easiest ways to maintain healthy relationships, with anyone, is to show appreciation. When you make it a point to share with people how much you appreciate what they have done it separates you from most other people who don’t show enough appreciation.


I’d be willing to bet that someone in your life has done something for you that deserves a simple thank you or a bit of appreciation. It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that you’re already aware of that person and fully intend to show your appreciation. But intending to show your appreciation and actually doing it are two very different things. 


Here are a few ideas for turning your intentions into actual actions. 


Call at least one person a day, everyday, to thank them for something. This might take a bit of thinking at first but pretty soon you’ll see the opportunities to say thank you are nearly limitless.  


Send out five thank-you notes a week. As powerful as a spoken thank you can be a written one is ten times more meaningful. Yes, an emailed thank you works but a hand written thank you means so much more. Poor handwriting is no excuse, print if you have to but handing out or mailing a written thank you can have tremendous impact on the recipient.


Don’t wait for someone to do something for you to show appreciation. Take the initiative and do something for someone every day and don’t let them discover it was you who did it. This is harder than it seems and I think it’s hard because it’s human nature to want “credit” for doing something good or nice. But do what you do for others without the expectation of appreciation or payback. When you expect something back, that is not appreciation — it’s a barter.


When you are appreciative, it makes other people feel like they want to do more for you, even though that was not your agenda. When we fail to show appreciation, it makes others feel like they want to do less for us. It makes them feel taken for granted. That’s never good.


Someone in your life could benefit from a word of appreciation this very day. Can you guess who it might be? Don’t guess, just start passing out appreciation as if it were free. The fact is, it is free but it is the most valuable free thing you’ll ever see. A thank you doesn’t cost anything yet it can mean the world to people who don’t hear those two powerful words often enough.

Don’t wait to show your appreciation. Do it now because a word of appreciation just might make someone’s day.

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.