By Judith W. Umlas
In my first blog post of this series I introduced the 5 Cs of acknowledgment practiced by grateful leaders. The first C—consciousness—may well be the most important. Consciousness in simple form is the awareness of something within oneself. What I am promoting as a critical leadership competency is the awareness of the vast array of undelivered communications that can change (or even save) lives, engage people by connecting them profoundly to their work and lightening their load, and that can positively affect performance. Here is a true of one such difference that a previously undelivered communication made to both the giver and the recipient.
Here’s another real-life story that had a profound impact on me. While training 100 managers in a large Finnish company, I posed the question: “When was the last time you were acknowledged for your work—within the last week, month, year, or not at all?” Few people ever raise a hand for the “not at all” category.
Imagine my surprise when even one hand raised in response to the last option. But I was even more surprised by the audience’s reaction. The participants jumped out of their seats to approach the person who raised her hand, in shock and amazement at her confession. I heard comments like, “What do you mean you have never been acknowledged—I think you’re the best person we ever had in that role,” and, “Can you possibly say that no one here ever told you how incredible you are?” The auditorium was buzzing. The woman burst into tears and said that if people had only shared all of this wonderful feedback with her before, she would not be leaving her current position (she had just requested and received a transfer to a distant company location, as she could no longer tolerate the lack of appreciation for her hard word that she had been feeling on a daily basis where she currently was working).
How could something like this have happened, you might ask, when this woman obviously was held in such high esteem by her colleagues? I can assure you that similar instances happen all the time, in every industry, on a variety of teams and departments, and even within our families. People think wonderful things about others but don’t bother to move such acknowledgments from their brains to their mouths.
And why don’t they? I have heard every excuse in the book: I’m too busy to stop and tell him, he’s too busy to listen, I don’t want to interrupt the work she is doing, I don’t know the right words to use, she might think I am being phony and trying to manipulate her, he will then ask me to give him a raise, and so forth. But if you are reading this blog series on the 5 Cs, there is at least some intention on your part to become more generous and sincere with your acknowledgments, to help your employees feel more valued and appreciated, and to reap the rewards.
So, the first step is to take note of the acknowledgments that float through your brain—to become conscious of them. I recommend carrying a notebook with you or capturing these thoughts on your mobile device as each one enters your mind. The ongoing act of delivering these critical communications is imperative if you want to create a culture of appreciation in your organization that will enhance loyalty and engagement. As you grow conscious of each acknowledgment, you will then progress to the second of the five Cs—choice. More on choice next week!
To learn more, visit www.GratefulLeadership.com.
This link goes to many videos – can we just have it go to Acknowledgment Movie?
Judith W. Umlas is Sr. Vice President, author and trainer at International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL), a global corporate training company. She is the publisher of IIL Publishing, New York. She is also the author of the ground-breaking book, The Power of Acknowledgment ©2006, IIL Publishing, New York, which has been credited with changing workplaces and lives by making use of the 7 Principles of Acknowledgment she developed. Her book on Grateful Leadership, Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results was published by McGraw-Hill Professional in association with IIL in early 2013 and You’re Totally Awesome! The Power of Acknowledgment for Kids was published in late 2013 by IIL Publishing.
Judith delivers inspiring, motivational, and transformational keynote addresses on Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment all over the world. She also leads webinars and teaches full day virtual and traditional courses to organizations such as Volvo, the U.S. Army, Prudential, JMP Engineering, the World Bank, Fannie Mae, IBM, AT&T, Google, Amway, CCL Industries, the New York Police Department, and many others. She has trained over 100,000 people through her leading edge, highly interactive and engaging courses, and keynotes – with outstanding and long-lasting results. She heads up the Center for Grateful Leadership, as division of IIL, whose members from around the world are committed to practicing and implementing the Grateful Leadership initiative in their organizations.
Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment are Judith’s passion and purpose!
Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.
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