Humanity tends to focus on the negative aspects in life rather than appreciating the good that is all around. The mental state of many is dependent upon the words that they hear on a daily basis. As leaders, it is critical that we let those we lead know how valuable and important they are. Showing appreciation for the smallest things can go a long way. If we don’t focus on the good that is all around us, then our focus will change our leadership into a dictatorship. Those we lead need to know they are appreciated and valued.
As I stated before, the smallest amount of appreciation can go a long way. People need to hear they are wanted, needed, and that they matter. When all they hear is what they don’t do well, what they need to fix, what they need to change, etc., their desire to do well diminishes. When leadership only focuses on what people need to do better, they stifle the hearts and minds of those working hard so hard trying to be better. Would you rather work for someone who tells you what you need to work on and how you can improve with little to no appreciation, or would you rather work for someone who expresses appreciation for your hard work and dedication and provides guidance and support for you to get better? I know which one I would choose. Simon Sinek said it best when he said, “Be the leader you wish you had.”
Appreciation for others is one of the highest forms of respect. Appreciation forces us to think beyond the issues, troubles, struggles, and frustrations and look at the positives someone brings. However, showing appreciation every once in a while is not beneficial. Charles Schwab said, ““The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” If leadership is about how one life influences another, then appreciation is a characteristic that should be foundational in leadership development. Start by showing appreciation for those you see often and move to those you see in passing. Tell them you value and care for them. Find a characteristic in people that is positive and celebrate it. It will feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. It might be your simple word of appreciation that changes the mindset of those around you.
I have found that showing appreciation for people makes them do a double take. I have been given some strange looks just by sharing my appreciation for someone. What this tells me is people aren’t given enough appreciation. People find it foriegn to be told that they are appreciated and valued. Leadership should make it a habit to express appreciation as often as possible. Will people screw up, do the wrong thing, or make bad choices? Of course, we’re human. That shouldn’t change our appreciation of someone. Leadership is a mindset and action. If we focus on the problems and issues and neglect the building up and encouragement of people, then all we will see are the problems and issues. If you want a strong, forward progressing company or organization, then invest in your people. Share your gratitude and appreciation for them; especially when they mess up.
People see leadership as an example to follow, and many take what leadership says personally. This means that leadership needs to be careful with their words. One of my favorite authors and speakers, Rock Thomas, expresses the importance of identity and the power of words. “The words that follow ‘I am’ follow you. The words you use after “I am” is who you become and how you define yourself.” Below is a link to Rock’s Goalcast video that focuses on building a positive identity. Showing and sharing appreciation for others is a way to promote and encourage positive identity building. This doesn’t mean leadership allows bad habits and poor work ethic. Instead, share what you appreciate about people while providing guidance, support, and encouragement.
Rock Thomas, This Is How To Resist Labels, https://youtu.be/UFDBkDrCHXY