(Originally published at greatleadersserve.com)
Good Intentions Are Never Enough
Virtually every leader has a natural bias… we are either more results-oriented or relationship-oriented. However, the best leaders discipline themselves to value both results and relationships. If your natural tendency is to focus on results, one small step you can take to raise the value of relationships is to stop and say thanks.
If you are a more relationship-oriented leader, you can skip the rest of this post. However, I’m guessing tens of millions of leaders should keep reading. Or, perhaps, I just wrote this post for myself; one thing I’ve learned: If I don’t battle against my results orientation, my leadership will always be limited.
The way forward if you are more results-oriented is not to change your bias, but to compensate. To express thanks, gratitude and appreciation can begin to establish a new equilibrium… a world in which even the most results focused leader can demonstrate value for others.
You may be thinking, “People in my life and work know how I feel about them.” My response:
Thoughts of appreciation and gratitude unexpressed are meaningless.
So, how do you begin? You just do – send a text, write a note, buy a card – and mail it, make a call, send an email, stop by someone’s office, any way you choose, just do it. Stop and say, “Thanks, I appreciate you.”
Who should you reach out to? Here are some broad categories to jump-start your thinking…
Family – When is the last time you thanked your parents for helping you become the person you are today? Have you told your spouse how much you appreciate his or her contributions to your life? Have you thanked your kids recently for the patience they helped you forge?
Friends – I have long believed, you become like the people you hang out with. Our friends are some of the most influential forces in our lives – for good or bad. Assuming your friends have had a positive impact on you, say thanks!
Team – No leader accomplishes anything of significance alone. Yes, your team members are paid to work, but as Peter Drucker once observed, we are all knowledge workers and the key to knowledge work is discretionary effort. Your team can show up and get paid, but if that’s all they do, your leadership is doomed. Thank your team for their discretionary efforts!
Mentors – Who helped you learn what you’ve learned? Who has invested in your growth? Who do you turn to for counsel on difficult decisions? The men and women who serve as your coach, guide or mentor have invested time and energy in your future. Take a moment to say, “I’m thankful for you!”
Influencers – For many of us, this is a far-reaching group. Think back to teachers, coaches, counselors and others who shaped you. Many of them believed in you before you believed in yourself. Why not reach out to these supporting characters in your story and say, “You made a difference in my life.”
The best time to say, “Thank you!” is every day.
Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.