As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it’s a perfect time to celebrate one of my favorite leadership words.
A word that perfectly encapsulates many of the essential attributes of a great leader.
A word that may take a back seat to its cousin “Thank You“, especially this time of year, but justly deserves its place in the sun.
In fact, there should be a holiday named after it too.
A very “half-full” word, in many, many ways, because the act of appreciating is all about “looking at the literal world in a positive way“.
Let’s break the word down so you can see what I mean (courtesy of Dictionary.com):
- “gratitude; thankful recognition” – A leader’s act of appreciating should always go beyond simple thanks. There was something behind that “Thank You” that should also be acknowledged – a job well done, a task completed early, or an “above and beyond” that saved the day.
- “the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value” – For a leader, there’s always the question of what is worthy of appreciation and what is not. But as this element of the definition points out, there’s a lot more to it than that. How we assess this “proper value” is critical – in people, in policy, and in process. It’s a real test of a leader’s judgment.
- “clear perception or recognition, esp. of aesthetic quality” – The underlying theme here is having an open and curious mind – leaders must be able to appreciate (and celebrate) the diversity around them, especially when these differences sometimes go up against their own perceptions and beliefs. Once that is done, it opens up all kinds of possibilities that didn’t exist before.
- “an increase or rise in the value of property, goods, etc.” – Leadership is all about constantly increasing the value of the enterprise we serve, the people on our team, and most importantly, ourselves. If we think about it in this way, we will never suffer from inertia, and always be pushing forward.
- “critical notice; evaluation; opinion, as of a situation, person, etc.” – A leader’s ability to deliver proper critique is an underdeveloped skill in many workplaces. Putting it in the orbit of appreciation gives it the proper spin, in that critique should never be delivered with malice or ill will. Rather, it is an opportunity for learning and improvement.
- “a critique or written evaluation, esp. when favorable” – One of a leader’s most universally loathed duties is the formal written evaluation. While it’s true that a great leader should always be giving “real time” feedback, thus making these exercises all the more rote, therein lies the opportunity for another form of appreciation – a well thought out, well written summation of all that feedback that functions as more of an exclamation point instead of a waste of time.
Bringing all this appreciation to your leadership table may not be as immediately satisfying as that sumptuous meal you will soon be enjoying at your Thanksgiving table, but in the long run, it will put your leadership on a more productive and fulfilling path.
Without the indigestion. 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving all!