Recognition and appreciation are critical. But if you overlook one fundamental component, it does not work.

Thinking back to MBA days and the introductory course on Organizational Behaviour, I remember that we were taught that we must be specific with our praise. A simple, “Thank you John.” was not enough. We needed to clarify our recognition. Something along this line was recommended, “Thank you John. I really appreciate the extra effort you put into the Penske file and the extremely important information you uncovered that ultimately enabled us to win the account.”

Being specific is important however being specific is not sufficient.

Psychologists have learned that two of the strongest underlying motives that drive human behaviour are:

  1. Feeling competent and capable

  2. Feeling valued

Essentially this means that when we feel competent and capable and when we feel valued, we are likely to take action.

The MBA advice addresses the first motivation in reinforcing that someone is competent and capable. However, it does nothing to address the second motivation that people need to feel valued as a person distinct from any resultant utilitarian value they produce. And when they don’t feel valued, they are less likely to act. That’s right, they are unlikely to act even when they feel competent and capable.

If the people you lead know they are competent but don’t feel valued because you haven’t made it 100% clear that you value them, you will face the consequences. They are going to leave their A-game at home and they will not thrive under your leadership.

I still remember from high school when I first read, “How to win friends and influence people”, Dale Carnegie said something to the effect, “Imagine that every person you meet has a sign on their chest that says, ‘Make me feel important’.” This is the essence of making people feel valued.

Thriving leaders make people feel valued irrespective of what the person produces. You can do this by listening more than talking, knowing the names of their family members, asking them questions about things that are important to them or expressing your gratitude to them for who they are as a person.

There are no hard and fast rules to making people feel valued other than you must be genuine. So when it comes to helping people thrive, the bottom line is that thriving leaders do both. They ensure people feel valued and they ensure people feel capable and competent.

Special Announcement [Fall 2018]

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