One of the keys to leadership I have always been taught is showing appreciation to those you are leading. I believe this is so very important to leadership, but appreciation for appreciation’s sake can actually cause more harm than good.
Last week I was driving past one of my favorite restaurants, Taco Bell, and on the sign I read, “Home of the World’s Best Employees”. What a bold statement! The World’s Best Employees? Then I thought, was this an affirmation of something these employees have heard before or was this is a sad attempt to attract new employees. Knowing the reputation Taco Bell employees have, I would venture to say the latter. But this brings up a valid point. Do we simply affirm those we’re leading just because we want them to feel appreciated to get something out of them? I would say no. When we only affirm or appreciate individuals in those moments we have something to gain, we have just used our followers as pawns in a very selfish game of chess. In our attempts to move things forward we actually lose credibility and take steps backwards. I know when that’s happened to me personally, rather than feeling appreciated, I experience a very shallow form of flattery. People won’t follow leaders that flatter them, but they will give everything they have for leaders that appreciate them. I have two questions I want to leave you with: 1. Are you properly appreciating those your leading? 2. When you appreciate others, do you only do so when you have something to gain?