The Point: As a Marshall Goldsmith Certified Stakeholder Centered Coach (SCC), the executive coaching process typically revolves around stakeholders providing feedback to the leader on the specific behavioral actions. At the center of this feedback process, which could be good, bad, and/or ugly, is the response that the leader is to provide to those stakeholders for their “gift” of feedback… The leader is instructed simply to respond with a “Thank you” for the gift. While it appears to be a sincere moment (especially considering how some of the feedback could be far from positive, and perhaps a more belligerent response warranted), we started wondering this week how often as the leader you say “Thank you” to those you work with? More importantly, what outcomes would you receive if you included such words of thanks more frequently into interactions? So in this post, we set out to identify those “Thank you” moments, what rewards you could potentially reap from implementation, and lastly (and certainly not least), hurdles you may have to overcome in order to pull off a successful “Thank You”… Enjoy!
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”
— Max DePree
Leadership 101: Your Manners Count!
Every move you make as a leader in your organization will be scrutinized by your employees… Not every tenth move, nor one-hundredth… Every single move! In a line straight out of the George Cooney classic “Ocean’s 11” comes the line “Everything is on camera. Everything is being recorded!” So you too should consider the Las Vegas lifestyle as appropriate fodder for yourself as a leader when it comes to the behaviors you exhibit, and most importantly your reactions (verbal/physical).
So if everything is being observed, how can you insure that you are being “seen” as appropriate. While the typical conversation introduction begins “Hello” or “Good Morning” for example, perhaps the appropriate conclusion should be “Thank you”. Another way to think about it would be to consider if your actions were to show up on the front page of tomorrow’s CNN website… What would you want the headline or image to capture? I’m guessing something reflective of your manners, so special consideration should be considered.
The Thank You Leadership Rewards Program
So what do you have to gain in saying thanks to those you encounter? Here’s a brief list (but you’ll get the point):
- Increased employee engagement
- A positive work environment
- Increased feedback of the good/bad/ugly variety
- The ability to quickly course correct (i.e., change)
- Better customer experiences
- Establishing trust quicker/keeping it longer
- Greater revenue (?)
So saying “Thank you” could very well be a game-changer for you as a leader, department, and organization. If that’s the case, why aren’t there leadership development programs, initiatives to increase communication skills training for leaders, and an overall betterment policy implemented by most organizations? The answer may come in the form of the hurdles you’ll encounter.
The “Thank You” Hurdles (or Mountains!)
Saying “Thank you” as a leader is relatively easy and effortless when times are good. Think about it… You have a great conversation about how profits are up, the sales pipeline is full, and the organization is achieving exponential growth/profitability. Telling those you work with thanks is a no-brainer (It’s simple, effortless, and should roll off the tongue like water off a ducks back).
But what if things aren’t so perfect? What if profits are down, the sales pipeline is vacant, and the organization is going backwards in growth/profitability? I’m guessing that as a leader saying “Thank you” might be at best difficult (That is if you can mutter it under your breath through clenched-teeth!) With blood-pressure skyrocketing, cheeks blushing, and thoughts racing a million miles an hour, I’m guessing that as a leader your vision is anything but clear.
One of the aspects that I’ve really enjoyed in Centered Executive Coaching comes from the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) process of meditating. Specifically, during meditation you’re encouraged to focus on your breath. If I hadn’t participated myself, I’d have little faith that simply focusing on the inhale/exhale exchange could cause me to have tremendously greater focus after meditating. As such, and for our purposes here, perhaps a few meditative moments are in order to hit the proverbial pause button as a leader so that you can gather your composure (and thoughts). Saying “Thank you” in these moments will allow you to do exactly that.
So in this post on The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You” we’ve covered ways in which you can identify those “Thank you” moments, the rewards available to you from implementation, and lastly hurdles you will have to overcome in order to pull off a successful “Thank You.” Saying it with true meaning counts, so best of luck in your “Thank You” endeavors!
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.