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Three Steps to Becoming an Appreciative Leader


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“Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” —Mary Kay Ash

Appreciative Leadership

Everyone wants to feel valued and to know that their contributions make a difference. In a nutshell, that’s what appreciative leadership is all about. It’s about recognizing and acknowledging the value that others bring to the table. It’s about giving them the opportunity to show off what they know and what they can do that brings value to the project, the team, and the organization. It’s about realizing that you do not have all of the answers, that you can’t do it all by yourself. Your success and the success of your organization is dependent on your ability to embrace the strengths of others, to set your ego aside and let them shine, and to show sincere appreciation for specific, individual contributions.

Values other’s strengths

Mattie Stepanek said, “Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” While Mattie suggested that unity is strength, I take this one step further. What happens when we bring everyone’s strengths to the table in a unified effort? What incredible things might we accomplish together? To be an appreciative leader, you must let go of your ego; it’s not all about you and what you know, it’s about the entire team and bringing each of their strengths together to achieve shared goals. Value the strengths of others and let them be strong where you are weak.

Gives others the opportunity to shine

Chris Hadfield believes, “Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” Appreciative leaders bring out the best in others. They invest time and resources in developing their employees and then they get out of the way and let their employees shine. Show your employees that you believe in them and soon they will start believing in themselves.

 Shows specific appreciation

Ralph Marston told us to, “Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.” Appreciative leaders let others know that they are of value and they give credit where credit is due. Everyone is unique and has something distinctive to offer; they want the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and then to be recognized and valued on an individual level. While it’s great to hear “thank you”; how much more meaningful is it hear “Thank you, John, for the great job you did on the monthly sales report. Your graphs were amazing. I appreciate all the hard work you put into this project.”?

Start Today

Start being an appreciative leader today. Your appreciation will engage and inspire your employees. It will set a great example of how to value and treat others. This type of leadership focuses on helping others succeed and then showing sincere appreciation for the value they bring to the organization. Your appreciative leadership will build teams that allow individuals to use their strengths for the greater good, give employees opportunities to shine, and will show appreciation that is specific and individualized. When employees feel appreciated, they will appreciate you in return. And, employees who appreciate their leaders are willing to walk through fire for them. Show appreciation, develop loyalty, and succeed as an appreciative leader.

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