Leaders, life is full of choices. You make choices to do things and you make choices not to do things. In addition to keynote speaking and training, I often coach leaders who need improvement in specific areas, or just need their tires inflated. Last week, I asked a leader to pay a compliment to a team member and then be ready to discuss; what the team member did to be worthy of recognition, any reactions or responses they received, and if they would have done anything differently.
The following week, I started out our session by asking what happened when he paid the compliment. He said, “John, I took Monday and Tuesday off last week, and it was really busy for the remainder of the week.” I then asked the coachee if he had an open mind. He said, “Yes!”
I then reminded him the reason he chose me as a coach is because I was straightforward and to the point with my suggestions and advice. He smiled and said, “Yes, hit me between the eyes.” I then replied, “Saying you’re too busy to pay a compliment to another team member is a crock. It only takes a few seconds to recognize someone! How about we just say you made the choice not to recognize any individuals on your team?” He replied, “When you put it that way, I guess you can say that is true.” I responded, “Do you understand that when you make a choice to become stingy with recognition, your team members can become just as stingy in their choices to work faster, harder, and smarter for you?”
I then asked a series of questions; Are you judged on getting team members to work faster, harder, and smarter? Would you agree your #1 resource at work is your people? Would you agree that behavior rewarded is behavior repeated? In other words, if you pay a compliment there is a good chance the team member will become a bit inspired? He agreed with all my questions.
I continued, now as far as being too busy, I reminded him; life is full of choices. I then asked if he would be open to a technique I used every day to remind me of the importance of recognizing people who are trying to make me look good. “Sure,” he said. I personally place 5 paper clips in my right pocket when I go to work each day. You can use 5 washers, or pennies too. These 5 paper clips reminded me each day to pay at least 5 compliments to team members or co-workers who are trying to help me. As I pay a compliment, I quietly remove one paper clip from my right pocket and move it to my left pocket. If it is 2pm in the afternoon and I still have 2 paper clips left in my right pocket, it reminds me to get out there or pass along at least two compliments before the end of the day.
I then asked if he thought he could do this penny technique over the week. He replied, “Yes.” But I detected some hesitancy. I asked him, “Is there something you’re worried about?” He replied, “I am afraid of recognizing people too much.” I looked at him and asked, “Do you have an open mind?” He smiled and said, “Yes.” I then remarked, “When was the last time you heard a team member say I quit, I get too much darn recognition around here?” He smiled again, and replied, “Thanks, John. You have a way of uncovering uncommon, common sense. Things I should have known but just forgot over the years.” Leaders, life is full of choices. Don’t be the victim. Make a choice to recognize your #1 resource, your people, and do it often. Otherwise, they will make choices behind your back that you will not be fond of, like not working faster, harder, and smarter. Or, maybe the ultimate choice, not showing up each day. Leaders Are Made, Not Born.