|People always move toward someone who increases them and away from anyone who decreases them – John MaxwellI came across a story about renowned photographer Edward Steichen that has significant leadership application. His fame as a photographer was almost never realized as he nearly gave up on the day he shot his first pictures. At 16, young Steichen bought a camera and took 50 pictures. Only one turned out — a portrait of his sister at the piano.
Edward’s father thought that was a poor showing. But his mother insisted that the photograph of his sister was so beautiful that it more than compensated for the 49 failures. Her encouragement convinced the youngster to stick with his new hobby. He stayed with it for the rest of his life, but it had been a close call. What tipped the scales? The vision to spot excellence in the midst of a lot of failure.
The opportunity you have as a leader to add value and encouragement has never been greater and never more needed. A recent Harvard Business Review blog reported the findings of a new American Psychological Association survey that reports that fifty-four percent of workers say they are not paid enough for their efforts and 61 percent say they don’t have sufficient opportunities for advancement. When you couple those findings with long work weeks, the endless answering of emails at all hours of the night, it contributes to one-third of U.S. workers reporting chronic stress.
As a leader who is committed to adding value to those around you it is important that you are aware of what is taking place among your team, the stress they are under, and your investment in their personal development. Here are three ways you can show it.
Recognition. The long hours, work and dedication of your team is the life-blood of your success. Their success is your success. Their achievement is your achievement. How do you adequately recognize the people in your organization who believe in you, who have embraced your vision, and work tirelessly to make it happen? You start with recognition.
It’s as you understand that recognition and loyalty go hand-in-hand that you will add value as a leader. When you give recognition to those around you it sends the message that you not only recognize their work but that you value them as individuals. Recognition adds value to the person and builds the morale of your team.
Respect. Albert Schweitzer said, “Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them.” Adding value to others is a matter of respect. Recognition is nice but if there is no accompanying respect attached to it then it is meaningless. Value is added as respect is shown.
Leaders who add value to others understand that respect is the basic premise by which a relationship is forged. It opens the door to all other possibilities. A leader who wants to add value to those around him begins by respecting the gifts, talents, and contributions of those he leads. To be sure, respect must be earned, but if never given, value will never be added.
Reinforcement. In adding value and moving your team forward it is important to understand the role that reinforcement plays as part of your leadership style. Your corporate culture is developed by implementing the formula of BP (best practices) + DE (daily execution) that = VBO (value based outcomes) for success. It’s as you reinforce your values that you will achieve the results you desire.
Consider the effects of low morale, high stress, and the general feeling of not being appreciated by many in today’s workplace. Certainly a lack of respect and recognition are factors. As you give recognition, show respect, and reinforce values you can be a leader that adds value to those around you.
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at ddickerson@ lasvegastribune.com.