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It’s Not Just Rewards and Recognition – Leaders Acknowledge People!

Acknowledge People Leaders!

Employee reward and recognition programs are important…

Reward and recognition programs are critical to every team and organization. And great leaders naturally get this. However, just as important, if not more important is that leaders simply acknowledge people.

A number of years ago I was asked to serve at the head of a church congregation of about 800 people. Clergy are not paid in my religion, so it was all volunteer (about 25 or more hours a week in addition to my full-time job). I willingly accepted the assignment/calling because it was the right thing to do.

This leadership assignment/calling would require that I minister to this congregation; listen intently and counsel them on their struggles, grieve with them through tragedy and teach whenever I could.

After my first Sunday as the new leader of this congregation I came home exhausted, but fulfilled. I felt I had done a pretty good job given it was my first day. I asked my wife, Terri, how she thought I had done. Of course she had lots of positive things to say, but she did point out one thing I could do differently as well.

She said, “Mike, you may not have even realized you did this, but I was watching you in the hall after church and noticed you didn’t act any differently.” I said, “That’s good, because I shouldn’t really act any differently, I am the same person I was before I was called to this position.”

She said, “True, but in your new leadership position people expect you to acknowledge them. You went down the hall and barely made eye contact with anyone. I saw a number of people wanting you to acknowledge them, but you must have had so much on your mind.”

I said, “I did have a lot on my mind, and I was heading to a meeting I was already running late for.” Her response was gentle and simple, “Honey, it is important to acknowledge people in your new leadership position. They want you to look at them in their eyes and acknowledge them by their name.”

She recounted how it made her feel when church leaders had acknowledged and remembered her name. She was right, and I made it a point from that day forward to smile more and acknowledge people by their name regardless of how much I had on my mind or how busy I was.

How important is it for leaders to acknowledge people? Very important! In my career, the leaders that took the time to reach out and acknowledge me at a gathering or meeting, though they may have been my bosses boss, have had an important and positive impact on me.

People want to be acknowledged and remembered by their name. I heard the story told once of a CEO of a medium sized company who would make it a point whenever he visited an office to go around and shake the hands of every employee. He would also make it a point to remember their names and something about their family, hobbies etc… Then when he returned he would acknowledge them by their name and inquire about their families, or some other interest.

I bet you can predict the kind of influence, morale and trust this leader built!

While employee reward and recognition programs are important, taking the time to acknowledge people is just as important – maybe even more.

Question: Do you take the time to acknowledge people as a leader? Have you had a leader who took time to acknowledge you? How did it make you feel? Please take the time and comment below. Thanks!

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