As an association leader, how often do you get a full night of sleep? How often do you log out of work for an entire weekend—or even a whole evening? Looming deadlines and concerns for the health of your organization likely pepper your thoughts. You’re responsible for more than yourself. You’re accountable to your business or organization, the people you work with, and the audience you’ve promised to support.
An entire community is relying on you.
Despite all your efforts to give them what they need, you still wonder, “Is there more they’re craving from me? Do they need more creative freedom? Less creative freedom? More responsibility? Less? Do they wish I was more personable with them? Or do they think I’m overbearing?”
As much as we wish there were a one-size-fits-all answer to each of these questions, it always comes down to the needs of each individual. Everyone expects a different level of involvement from their managers. So the secret is getting to know your team and asking them what they need.
However, there is one element that almost all employees crave more of. SESCO Management Consultants and this study by WorkHuman agree that the majority of employees report seeking more appreciation from their managers. With so many tasks, goals, and meetings rattling around in your mind, taking the necessary time to appreciate your employees' work appropriately may fall to the back of your to-do list. Perhaps you’re not quite sure how to best provide feedback. Maybe you find yourself unable to provide recognition because you’re out of the loop on what your employees are achieving. Whatever the case may be, this is one skill every leader must take time to practice.
Leadership and culture consultant Joan Shafer says, "One of the impacts of recognition is that it helps eliminate doubt. We perform an action and we wonder, how did I do?" If you’ve ever felt frustrated by someone telling you, “No news is good news,” you know the truth of Joan’s statement. Hardly anyone in the workforce is immune from imposter syndrome. Without feedback, employees begin to wonder about their status within the organization, about their own capabilities, and about how they can improve.
No one should ever have to walk into a performance review unsure of what their manager thinks of them. Be communicative. Provide feedback when relevant so that errors may be corrected in real-time and good work can be applied to future projects. Waiting for a scheduled performance review or another convenient time will cause you to lose impact.
Last week, we discussed what makes an exemplary leader, and we believe it has nothing to do with personal success. It‘s more about what you offer to those you lead. Do you move forward with arrogance or humility? Do you prioritize your own goals over giving your employees what they need to reach their own?
Particularly as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we cannot ignore the significance of recognition. Women and minorities continue to face discrimination and inequality because they were actively discouraged for so long. They were held back and undercut by their male counterparts. Now, we combat that with admiration. By offering respect and appreciation to women of the past, present, and future, we hope to overcome our past and race forward.
Leaders must offer the same opportunity to their employees. Help them discover how much they can accomplish by recognizing innovation, creativity, and hard work. In his book The Art of Leadership, Max De Pree wrote, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.” Successful leaders are those who promote the success of others.
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