Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US, and many of us will pause to reflect on our blessings . . . the people, places and things for which we are most thankful. That is a good thing. At least for one day, and hopefully far beyond, we are encouraged to put our petty grievances and frustrations in context as we consider the abundance we enjoy in our lives.
If you are a leader whose role it is to influence others, I challenge you to extend that reflection a bit further and ask yourself whether you give your people a reason to be thankful? Granted, this question really isn’t about you per se, but rather about whether you help create an environment where your people can thrive. How can you influence such an environment? There are an endless number of ways, but here are a few good places to start:
Recognize your people’s gifts and graces.
Do you know what makes each individual a valuable member of your team? What unique experiences, perspectives and talents they bring to the table that contribute to your organization’s overall success? Tell them. Specifically. Doing so helps them feel seen and people who are seen are more likely to feel valued.
Challenge your people to stretch and accomplish more.
Set ambitious goals for people, which play to their strengths, and let them know you have confidence in their ability to figure it out . . . then let them! Sure, give them “guard rails” and offer input if they ask, but let them grapple with the discomfort of growth. The confidence and experience that comes from letting someone find a way forward — even if it is different from the path you would have chosen — benefits both the individual and the organization.
Ask and listen.
When you seek the input of others, and truly listen to their thoughts, they become more engaged and invested in the overall success of the initiative. Even better, when your people see their feedback incorporated into the considerations going forward, the project moves from “yours” to “ours” . . . and “our” projects build an energy and excitement that “yours” rarely will.
Appreciate their contribution.
Thank you. It’s really not that hard, but how often do we neglect to offer our thanks because “it’s part of their job,” or we have already moved on to the next task on our to-do list? Letting someone know how much you appreciate their specific contribution toward the success of an effort helps them recognize and take pride in role they play in your organization’s success.
For better or worse, a leader influences the environment in which their people work to accomplish worthy goals. Are you the reason someone is thankful?