Friday, November 28, 2008

thankful leadership

On this weekend of thanksgiving, let's remember that leaders need to be thankful people. Nothing says "follow me" more than saying thank you to someone for a job well done. Stopping by an office and saying thank you reminds the people you lead that you not only notice what they do, but that their contribution is appreciated. A simple thank you can last someone days, weeks, or even months...but don't let it go that long.

Saying thank you seems so easy to do - and yet is often unused by leaders. What gets in the way?
  • time - leaders get too busy to say thank you (meaning you are too busy to lead)
  • pride - saying thank you may mean that people might be doing a better job than the leader (which they should be doing if you are actually leading)
  • background - no one ever said thank you to the leader, so why should he or she say thank you to others? (get over yourself)
  • expectations - some leaders assume that people should do their job because it is their job - a thank you should be saved for anything that is over and above expectations (get real)

Writing thank you notes seems to have gone our of fashion, but even email thank yous are better than nothing. How hard is it to sit down at the desk, write a quick thank you to someone you just saw doing something well, and hit the send button? Your thank you will go a long way in helping that worker be more motivated the next time around.

So on this weekend of Thanksgiving, be sure to give thanks - not for all the wonderful things you have, or even for the people you lead, but to those whom you lead...and don't forget to keep saying thank you throughout the year.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I've heard the adage that "perspective changes everything" but I wasn't sure I believed it - until last week. I was talking with a mentor of mine and happened to mention that I was going to be involved in an event I was not looking forward to - in fact, I was loaded with negative feelings about this event. He asked me to name some of the perspectives in which I was viewing this event. I probed a bit on what he meant, and then just began to name a few of the the ways I was looking at the event.

I realized that after naming out loud a few of my perspectives, they were all negative - focused on other people, other influences, and other's behavior. Feeling I should name a "positive" perspective, I did so - AND THE LIGHT BULB WENT OFF! Suddenly it all made sense that one's perspective CAN change everything. I felt more in control of the event...I felt that there could be a positive outcome to the event...and I understood that I could make the event what I wanted/needed it to be based on MY perspective.

So what happened? It turned out okay! I went into the event with hope and anticipation, knowing what my role would be and how I would act in that role. Not only was I more positive about the event, I was more at ease throughout the event. And because of that, I was able to take on and maintain a leadership role that was beneficial to all involved. And the end result of the event turned out good...all because of a changed perspective.

Where might you need to find a new perspective today? Is it in a relationship with a co-worker or significant other? Is it in terms of your organization - or your role within that organization? Is it in a specific job that needs to get done? Is it about a meeting you have to have with a co-worker today? Is it about your children - or your own parents?

Consider multiple perspectives - and be sure to find one that is positive. Choose the perspective which will best help you build a relationship and accomplish your goals - and the goals of your organization. That seems to me to be a way to lead - and to make a difference in the lives of others and in the mission of your organization.