Young Leaders … Thanking > Asking

I’m not an old and wise leader . . . but I have been around the block a few times.  This week I’m commenting on three issues that I’ve seen crop up with young leaders all the time.  I’ve already paid the stupid tax on these issues . . . I hope you don’t have to.

One of the formative leadership development experiences in my life was that I served with a ministry where I had to raise my own salary.  I wasn’t very good at it.  But it taught me the crazy important lesson that thanking people is far more than asking them for things.  The director of that ministry, Wayne Johnson, was a strong advocate of writing thank you notes to every donor before depositing the check in the bank . . . every month.   Doing this task bugged me.  It seemed repetitive, tedious and frankly a waste of time.  But as I look back on that . . . not only was Wayne right – it’s über important to express thanks to your network regularly . . .  but it forms something in you as a leader when you often reflect on the amazing things other people are doing to make the organization work.

Leaders ask people to do things all the time.  One definition of leadership is moving people to a place that they wouldn’t go by themselves . . . asking stuff of people is core to the leadership function.  But what if you spent twice as much time thanking people as you did asking them for things?

If you thanking isn’t a part of your regular flow yet  . . . do these few small things for a month . . . and that will turn around . . .

  • Get a stack of thank you cards, stamps and envelopes and put them on your desk in an awkward spot.  Make them stand out . . . and easy to grab.
  • Make a list of 50 people that you need to be thanking regularly . . . print out the labels for those 50 people . . . and write 5 cards a week . . . then start at the top of the list again.
  • Use your drive home from work every other day to call some folks and say “I just was just driving home from the office and wanted to call to say thank you for what you do around here!”
  • At your next team meeting . . . take in enough notes for each team member . . . and tell them that you aren’t going to start the meeting until we all write one thank you note for someone else in the organization.
  • Have a party . . . people like parties.  Then get up and say thank you . . . don’t ask them for anything . . . just say thanks.

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” ~G.B. Stern

What has your thanking pattern been in your world?  What has worked to help spread the love within your network? [Share the wealth!  We want to know how you thank people!]

1 Comment

  1. I second that motion! Thank you note are powerful. Go the extra distance and make the call or write a note for snail mail.

    I’ve had someone even say they’ve saved and displayed my thank you note by their desk at work to remind them that someone appreciates them and to keep going. WOW. My note wasn’t Shakespeare, it was simply written. But it was authentic, and it called out in acknowledgement that they mattered to the work we are trying to do together.

    Try it. You’ll like it. Better yet, the person receiving it will too.

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