"You're amazing!" How to win this rare praise

Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Cheryl Bachelder.

Gallup has been reporting for nearly 20 years that employees rarely hear the words “thank you” from their supervisors. Similarly, I can assure you, CEOs rarely hear the words “you’re amazing …” from the people they work for either. If you are a leader, you know this already -- appreciation is in short supply.

But I’m a realist and a former public-company CEO. If I were you, I wouldn’t hold my breath for the “you’re amazing” email from your board or your supervisor. But I do want to encourage you wherever you serve as a leader. There is a way to be appreciated and valued in your role. It’s simple, but powerful. Here’s what you do: Serve the people in your company well.

Here are three ways you do just that. And your team will thank you for it.

Choose a bold strategy to win

Your team wants to win big. It’s just more fun than small, slow improvements. But too often, the turbulent times breed fear of bold strategies. Leaders at every level choose the “less risky” path – so we don’t have to convince our bosses to make the big investments. It’s easier to do the closer-in, incremental improvements, that everyone is more comfortable with.

Your team hates this idea of the “safe” strategy. They know the truth. Without the brave strategy to win, they lose. Slow success doesn’t yield “the land of opportunity” for the people. So why not give them the big, bold plan to win, risk and all?

Here’s just one example of a bold strategy to win from the restaurant sector. Former CEO Patrick Doyle led Domino’s Pizza through a bold strategic move -- shifting from a pure delivery advantage to a technology advantage and the results have been amazing. Domino's is now the “Google” of pizza companies and years ahead of their competition. Restaurant owners and employees will proudly tell you how good it feels to be part of this win.

Invest in people capability

Your team wants you to invest in their potential. They think that will have an incredible return. Iimagine bringing out the best performance of every human in the enterprise. How cool an idea is that? And have you read all the best-selling books, boss? It actually does have an amazing ROI.

You understand ROI, right? If you needed to build a new factory to keep up with the cost structure of the competition, you would promptly develop the business case with proven ROI. Why not make the case for an investment in your people?

Best-in-class people capability in the restaurant industry? Chick-Fil-A. They make the investment. And you can see it in the results. Best ROI in the industry.

Have courage of your convictions

Your team wants to know what you truly believe, whether it's in work and this world. What are the unchanging truths that you rely on in leadership? What are your convictions about the game-changing actions required to get results? They would love it if you’d be really transparent about these views. It’s easier to follow leaders we truly know and understand.

My observation is that it is tough to maintain the courage of your convictions in leadership. It’s a battle to stand up and defend your convictions to all the different stakeholders you face. It can feel like an unwinnable battle, perhaps even a waste of time. But don’t listen to those voices in your head; listen to your team.

My friend Bob always says, “The people are looking for your weakness -- and praying for your strength.” There are always people on the sidelines criticizing your leadership. But your team, they are praying that you are the superstar they’ve been waiting for to drive success.

Let’s answer those prayers and lead with the courage of our convictions. Your team will be the ones who tell you “you’re amazing!” when you show them the path to superior results.

Serve them well.

 

Cheryl Bachelder is the CEO who led the turnaround of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen from 2007-17. She is the author of the best-selling book "Dare to Serve: How to drive superior results by serving others." She blogs at Serving Performs.

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