What Makes a Leader a Natural at Recognizing Staff?

What makes certain leaders such outstanding individuals at giving exceptional recognition to the staff they oversee? 

I am going to examine some of the essential qualities that make leaders a natural at recognizing employees meaningfully. 

Look at these various attributes and see how you stack up. And, you might have to assist your senior leaders in developing these same skills, and make them remarkable recognizers, too.

Leaders who are amazing recognizers love people. They have either innate or learned skills in developing positive relationships with others. They are influencers who know how to facilitate specific outcomes. You find that they are team players and strive for a team leadership approach. 

Exercise: Sit down with people at work you don’t know well. Learn more about them and find how they are doing.

Leaders who know how to recognize well are great communicators. These leaders enjoy talking with staff and getting to know them well. This means they have excellent communication skills, which includes strong listening skills. This allows them an empathy where they can relate to people. 

Exercise: Take the time to listen to people by putting your phone and other devices out of view when communicating with people. 

Leaders who appreciate people know how to nurture other leaders. They are the great encouragers of everyone they work with, even if that means making a person stretch a little. It is easy for them to support emerging leader programs and you’ll see them present and taking part in these learning events. 

Exercise: Attend an onboarding session with new staff and offer and open door invite for any to visit with you and ask questions about their future. 

Leaders who are amazing acknowledgers make people feel important. It is essential for them to value those who shine and appreciate the person for who they are. They have no problem recognizing the outstanding things people do and celebrating people’s achievements. When they see positive things happening, they’ll say something positive, too.

Exercise: Enlist the support of your direct reports to inform you of staff who have done amazing things you can acknowledge and praise them for. 

Leaders who know how to praise know the power of their words. They have mastered how to give Real Recognition™ and intuitively highlight a person’s accomplishment. You’ll see how they are specific in identifying the positive behavior and showing recognition recipients the impact of their actions. And their word choice is positive, vibrant, and uplifting. 

Exercise: Plan in time at the end of each day to hand write a thank-you card or note of appreciation to staff that shine.

Leaders help create work environments that appreciate everyone. Part of this is holding people accountable for maintaining the organizational culture. At other times, they will visit staff, or communicate virtually to departments, and give their personal gratitude for actions performed. They will remind others to recognize people.

Exercise: Ask department directors to schedule time with executive assistants for leaders to visit with teams and celebrate successes together.

Leaders proud of their people also show caring concern for them. Keep your leaders informed of positive employee news and the not so good news. These leaders want to be out on the front lines to show their interest and express messages of concern. They will make sure they give the right care to fit the situation. 

Exercise: Be attentive and follow up on any life event or wellbeing concern that employees share with you and do some small gesture to show concern. 

Recognition Reflection: How are you helping leaders become more empathetic towards their employees?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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