No leader succeeds alone — after all, you can’t really lead if no one is following you — and yet, it is primarily the leader who gets the credit for a project well done. (Okay, yes, you will also get the blame when things go awry, but that’s another post.) The best leaders naturally share the accolades with those who have made success possible, in big ways and small. I’m not talking about the rote, mindless drive-by thank you — although those are important too —but rather the heart-felt recognition of the unique contribution made by individuals on your team.
It is amazing to see the impact of taking a few minutes to express your gratitude for a specific action, and yet somehow this seems hard for people. Believe it or not, you can actually go to Hallmark’s website and find sample wording to include in a thank-you note, with examples covering numerous occasions. And while there are many ways to say thank you beyond a written note, I find that taking a few minutes to put pen to paper (you do remember what those are, right?!?) has a much more powerful impact than and a quickly typed email. And the more specific, the better.
“Thanks for all you did to make this project a success” is great, but not nearly as powerful as “I know you came in early three days in a row to proof this project, and I really appreciate your attention to detail. Your diligence helped insure our success. Thank you.” When you as a leader take the time to notice the specific contributions of a staff member, chances are they will bring those same gifts and graces — in even greater quantities — to the next big project.
Noticing . . . paying attention . . . makes people stand up a little straighter, feel a little more important, and most importantly, feel appreciated. When you “catch” someone going above or beyond, or remember that Dove chocolate is their favorite antidote to stress, or know their unique quirks, your staff recognizes that you see and value them as a person. For example, noticing a staff member’s brightly colored socks, if that is a distinguishing characteristic for them, can do more to make a person feel valued that a dozen standard-issue thank yous.
But hey, you’re busy and don’t have time for noticing the little things, right? Baloney. It’s all about prioritizing. Seeing . . . appreciating . . . thanking . . . take attention, but very little actual time. And when you as the leader take a few moments to share your appreciation, the sentiment becomes contagious, good things start to happen, and before you know it you are being patted on the back for your great success. Genius.
Have you noticed?