A friend of mine was reading a Valentine’s Day book to her baby daughter over the weekend, and she was struck by one line: “Valentine’s Day is a special day when we tell our friends and family we care about them…”
Giving a gift on a special day is nice, but isn’t it expected? The unexpected gift means much more. How amazing does it feel when someone gives you a meaningful, just-because gift, a gift of their time, a cup of your favorite coffee, a note to say Thank You, or a small token that says “I saw this, and I thought of you”?
Instead of celebrating only work anniversaries, birthdays or departures, great leaders provide positive reinforcement and make people feel good…every day. They don’t wait for a “special day” to tell their employees they appreciate and care about them. They don’t hold an obligatory customer service appreciation celebration one day out of the year, and treat their employees with indifference on all of the other days. They don’t just hand out cookies to the corporate masses and say “Whoever you are and whatever it is you do, thank you.”
True positive reinforcement is personalized and does not have the effect of giving chocolate to a diabetic. Leaders know enough about their employees to know what they like and what don’t like. A leader knows his people well enough to know how to demonstrate personalized care. Leaders experience an invisible tail wag when they are able to reinforce one of their own for work well done.
As my friend Michelle pointed out, If you cannot care, you cannot fake it. And if you cannot care, you cannot be a good leader.
Who are the important people in your life?
What can you do today to make them feel special?