[March 09, 2014] Senior leadership means letting people know that you appreciate what they are doing. Gratitude can be expressed in many ways and I will address them here shortly, but most important is the daily effort to recognize as many people as reasonable.
The frequency of showing gratitude depends on opportunistic circumstances such as geographic location and social contact will allow. Large organizations with diverse teams scattered across the world require an additional effort through digital media or use of proxy. Proxies are those people who are close in stature (or rank) to the senior leader and bring the leader’s most sincere gratitude wherever they go. Regardless, gratitude in some form should be practiced as often as possible, daily is best.
Additionally, leaders know that a figurative “pat on the back” is a great way to improve moral, instill motivation, and allows people to know that you see them doing the right thing. Gratitude is best expressed in person, of course, but can be done by sending a handwritten note or by telephone call. The more personal the pat on the back, the more it will be valued.
One technique I use is calling individuals to my office or by pulling them aside as I walk about and saying that I noticed their recent work, saying it was well done, shake their hand, look them in the eye, smile, say thanks; this is very brief and very effective.
A general rule of thumb is to praise in public. I praise in public and private at about the same frequently. Nearly all my praises are planned so I get the specifics right. This shows you have made an effort to understand what they have done and truly know them. A planned effort to know about the person being praised is one way that senior leaders differ from others. Gratitude is not random but deliberate mechanism targeted to a specific person or group.
Personally delivered gratitude is a proven, effective way to show that you value people. The benefits to that person are enormous.
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