I had this exchange with a member of the Power of Acknowledgment Resource Group on LinkedIn recently, after I asked people to submit the names of Grateful Leaders they knew, who I could then consider for Profiles in my upcoming book, Grateful Leaders: Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Enage, Motivate and Keep Your Best People. I asked:
Do you know of anyone who shows gratitude toward the people who work for him or her, who appreciates the talents and abilities and contributions of the employees, who wants to know them as people? I would appreciate any suggestions!
Royston Fernandes of Canada responded, and submitted the following message:
Judith – Perhaps I’m guilty of committing the cardinal sin of making an assumption. However, frequently, its the absence of certain things that raises questions. Could it be then, that the absence of comments about grateful leaders directly co-relates to the priority (or lack of) leaders and managers currently place on genuinely valuing the human element ? What does that tell us about the state of leadership today and more importantly about future leaders ?
I then wrote to him:
I think you have made some very astute observations. Here is my definition of a Grateful Leader, so you may understand better why we are not seeing a lot of “nominations”:
A Grateful Leader sees, recognizes and expresses appreciation for their employees’ contributions and their passionate engagement, on an ongoing basis. These Leaders really want to know their employees as people. They give their employees access to them as well as to other leaders regularly. By creating a culture of appreciation in their organization, in which people truly feel valued, they motivate their followers to strive for continuous improvement and always greater results. This, in turn promotes a positive environment and the overall well-being of both the leader and their followers.
If you do know of anyone who fills the bill, please do let me know. I have gotten some submissions from a variety of sources and they are outstanding human beings. But thanks for taking this to heart. I can see that the message resonates with you. Warmest regards, Judy
I also referred him to this blog, and he responded:
WOW ! What an exceptional, useful and pertinent blog. This certainly resonates with me and I’m going to be following it closely.
Then he submitted the following heartfelt, sincere and profound acknowledgment of a former leader of his:
For me, there are few people that meet these criteria, but the one person who I believe, fits the bill exceptionally is Roger Davis. Roger was my manager while @ IBM in 2002-2003/4. Why ? Roger understood my hunger to become a project manager. He listened to my dream of being a Project Manager and gave me the opportunity to learn the ropes as it were. More importantly – he taught me the difference between being a manager and a leader – by example. His appreciation came in various forms – constructive feedback, opportunities offered, a keen interest and support in my development long after I left IBM. I am grateful for his “servant leadership”, for reinforcing my belief that you can manage tasks – but you have to lead people. His actions have epitomised (and with due apologies to) JFK’s timeless exhortation – “Ask not what your team can do for you…but what you can do for your team.”
Again – thank you for your time and for driving this initiative forward.
Well done, Royston! This kind of acknowledgment makes a huge difference to a leader. I hope that Roger sees it, or else that you send it directly to him. We have no idea what unpredictably positive impact it could have. Also, he does sound like a candidate for the designation “Grateful Leader.” Thanks for letting all of us know about him.