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Never forget to recognize, encourage and thank

Bosses are always challenging. That’s how they got to where they are – by always demanding more, seeing opportunities, never accepting second-best. They have a powerful vision and drive people to success. As a leader, you would have no purpose if there wasn’t a reason to try to improve performance.

However, if this is a relentless and joyless pursuit that is not counterbalanced by a number of other softer qualities, the danger is that you are simply going to be seen as a hard and relentless task master. You will be seen as constantly critical and disapproving.

One of the most important signals of all to send is that of gratitude, by recognizing great performance when you see it. It amazes me how poor most leaders are in this area. I frequently ask the direct reports of the leaders I work with about how they see their leaders, and the area that is consistently marked lower than others, is that of recognizing contributions from others. Saying thank you and recognizing good work is so easy and so powerful that I am at a loss to understand why more leaders don’t spend more time doing exactly this.

Holding little celebrations when people achieve landmarks, sending thank you notes, telling stories about people on your team who have done well, singing their praises in the newsletter – all of these things send the most powerful signal of all: that performance matters and people who perform are important. Celebrating achievements is a way of making high performance more visible to everybody in the organization, and sends them strong signals about the behaviours and standards that are required. It is win–win signalling that I simply cannot commend highly enough.

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