"Today many American corporations spend a great deal of money and time trying to increase the originality of their employees, hoping thereby to get a competitive edge in the marketplace. But such programs make no difference unless management also learns to recognize the valuable ideas among the many novel ones, and then finds ways of implementing them." --Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
”There are two things people want more than sex and money -- recognition and praise." --Mary Kay Ash
A leader makes other people feel important and appreciated. The leader excels at creating opportunities to provide rewards, recognition and thanks to his or her staff. A leader creates a work environment in which people feel important and appreciated. Learn more about rewards and recognition in this fifth article in my Leadership Success series.
How Leaders Make People Feel Important Through Rewards and Recognition
A key leadership trait is the ability to inspire followership. In addition to supplying a shared vision and direction, leaders must develop a relationship with the people they inspire to follow them.
The successful leadership relationship inspires people to become more than they might have been without the relationship. Following an effective leader, people accomplish and achieve more than they may ever have dreamed possible.
The foundation of this successful relationship is the leader’s ability to make people feel important. (Sure, money works to a certain extent, although, as a limited quantity in organizations, I wouldn't overemphasize its importance.) So, effective leaders need to demonstrate these practices.
- Pay attention to people using common courtesy. Say good morning. Ask people how their weekend turned out. Ask whether Rebecca won her soccer match. Practicing simple courtesy is a powerful relationship-building tool.
- Listen to what your coworkers, peers and staff members have to say. Listen giving full attention to the person seeking your attention. If you can’t pay full attention and listen actively, set a time with the person to meet when you can. You gain much information from the ideas and opinions of others. You make people feel special when you listen to them without distraction. Know that Rebecca has a soccer match.
- Use powerful, positive language in your interaction with others. Say "please" and "thank you" and "you're doing a good job." Say, “We couldn’t have accomplished the goal without you.” “Your contribution saved the customer for the company.” Powerful, positive recognition makes people feel important. Powerful, positive recognition encourages your employees to contribute more of the same work in the future.
- Put praise in writing. A "thank you" note to the employee, with a copy to her file, magnifies the impact of the recognition.
- Keep your commitments to staff. If you have a meeting set up for Tuesday, attend the meeting. Cancellation should not occur except in a true emergency. Promised Pat a raise? Don’t do it unless you know you can keep your promise.
- Give staff public credit for contributions. You didn’t think up the idea for senior staff review. Instead say, “Mary thought this approach would work well and I agree with her.” “The credit belongs to John. Isn’t that a terrific idea?”
You may think these actions sound a lot like leadership by the golden rule. You’re right, although a fellow consultant told me about an even more powerful rule - the platinum rule. In the golden rule, you treat others as you wish to be treated. In the platinum rule, you treat people as they wish to be treated.
These are powerful, yet simple, ways you can reward and recognize people. These are powerful, yet simple, ways to make the people you employ feel important and appreciated.
The bottom line? Believe people are important. Act as if you believe people are important. People will feel important. Important people will think of you as a great leader.
Think of more ways to reward and recognize and make people feel important? I’ll be happy to add them. Please share your ideas.
Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style
Much is written about what makes successful leaders. I will focus on the characteristics, traits and actions that, I believe, are key in this series of articles.
- Choose to lead.
- Be the person others choose to follow.
- Provide vision for the future.
- Provide inspiration.
- Make other people feel important and appreciated. (Current Article.)
- Live your values. Behave ethically.
- Set the pace through your expectations and example.
- Establish an environment of continuous improvement.
- Provide opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
- Care and act with compassion.