Category Archives: Human Side of Leadership

Appreciation: The Heart of Recognition

When it comes to the role of recognition in the workplace, the knowledge base is clear: we human beings want to be appreciated and valued in the work we do.

Recognition, though, is only as good as the spirit that animates it. As a fundamentally above-the-line behavior, recognition can be disingenuous as easily as it can be sincere, perfunctory as easily as heartfelt.

It must therefore be rooted in below-the-line qualities of spirit such as gratitude and appreciation if it is to be meaningful to employees.

Leaders who wish to more effectively recognize employees, then, must begin by taking a candid look at the fundamental beliefs and values shaping their own behavior.

Do I have a sincere and personal appreciation for the contribution of employees? Do I genuinely feel gratitude for the work they do? Do I have a truly appreciative heart?

The answers to these questions will go a long way in determining how effective your efforts at recognition will be.

Appreciation is not only critical to effective leadership, it is far more so than many leaders realize. In our consulting work we have gone so far as to tell leaders that if they do not sincerely appreciate their employees, they should get out of the business of leadership altogether.

We say this not to be harsh or condemnatory, but simply because  recognition is far too important to be marginalized or trivialized. 

This importance stems in large part from the fact that, to the recipient, recognition is invariably personal. Plans and projects might be what people end up talking about but we are the ones doing a good job. We are the ones contributing to a program. We are the ones being thanked and valued.

Recognition is therefore an issue fundamentally concerned with people, not tasks. It is an acknowledgment of contributions made, but in a deeper sense it is an acknowledgment of the value and worth of an individual him- or herself.

And much as we all want to be recognized for what we do, we want even more we want to be appreciated for who we are.

This is true of our employees, our friends, our coworkers, our family, and ourselves. It is a universal human desire. And because it is such a personal issue, no one will be satisfied with a supervisor who does not value their efforts and recognize their contributions.

Vision: The Emotional Connection

Much is said today about the role of vision in the workplace. Unfortunately vision is often approached primarily as a tool to be wielded or tactic to be deployed – a mechanistic and relatively superficial understanding unsuited to the task of  capturing employees’ imagination, enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment. A client once took us on a… Continue Reading

Creating Motivation? Or Creating Conditions Conducive to Motivation?

Countless leaders have wrestled with the issues of motivation. How do I motivate this or that employee? How do I increase collective motivation throughout my office, department, or organization? These questions address important workplace realities. But are the foundations of such inquiry sound? Do leaders actually motivate employees at all? Research has suggested that a… Continue Reading

Motivation, Culture and “Bad Attitude” Employees

Almost nothing is more frequently lamented in management circles than “bad attitude” employees, those people it seems nothing can be done with. It’s true that few workplace dynamics are harder to address than antagonism, apathy and hostility. But rarely mentioned is the role that sincere and well-meaning leaders can play in creating such “bad attitude”… Continue Reading

Capturing the Human Spirit

Leadership is a 100 percent human undertaking. Systems are populated by people. Policies are embraced or rejected by people. Plans are enacted or ignored by people.  And because of this, effective leadership hinges on a leader’s ability to access the talent, enhance the capacity, and develop the potential of people. But what are these human… Continue Reading

The Wake of Leadership

Employee ownership, commitment, loyalty and initiative are key to any outstanding organization.  But astute leaders know that such qualities are too important to be left to chance. They must be woven into the fabric of workplace functioning. They must, in other words, be made a part of organizational culture. Take a moment to think about… Continue Reading

Choice: The Work/Home Connection

Organizations struggle not only because leaders don’t know what choices to make, but also because they simply don’t make the choices that they know are the most productive and constructive. This is an issue that lies at the heart of leadership. But it also affects our relationships with those outside the workplace.  Time and again… Continue Reading

An Act of Mindfulness, An Act of Will

Leaders often feel handcuffed by circumstances beyond their control. And in many ways they are powerless to prevent or alter such externalities. But while leaders may have limited choice over what happens to them, they have almost unlimited control over how they respond. We all, whatever our role or title, live in a world filled… Continue Reading

The Primacy of Choice

We previously explored the human knowledge base and its importance to building effective human systems. Unfortunately, knowing something isn’t the same as acting on that knowledge. Any roomful of leaders can rattle off a long list of characteristics that define outstanding organizations. The systems headed by those leaders, however, will often fail to manifest the… Continue Reading

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