Monday, November 5, 2012

Global Leadership-Recognition and The Personal Touch

Last week I had the pleasure of re-visiting an organization for which I had previously exercised leadership accountability.   It was really pleasant to see so many people who are as much friends as they are former working colleagues.

During that visit a woman who had been a direct report of mine at one time told a story of how I had written her a short, encouraging note at a particularly difficult time.  The business she supported was making the transition from an autonomous country operation to a regionally-aligned global one; it was in the midst of a major acquisition; and it was growing dramatically through organic investment.  She had her hands full and was doing a fine job managing all the tensions that came with that kind of business turbulence.  After a series of site visits, I wrote her a short encouraging handwritten  "you're doing good, stay after it, call me if you need more help" kind of note.

Last week, she shared with others around the lunch table how much that note had meant at a particularly difficult old fashioned hand-written note that she posted with a stick pin over her computer screen.  It became a source of encouragement for her during a difficult time.  She's been promoted since then and undoubtedly will several more times in her career.

The purpose of blogging on this subject isn't to promote what a great leader I was.  It's to reinforce that the personal touch is an important part of leadership.  For me it took the form of a simple handwritten note in that case. There is something tangible and personal about a handwritten note that doesn't come through on email or a phone call.

Too often we think only of tangible rewards that accompany recognition...monetary awards, or time off or off-site celebratory activities.  Clearly those things have their place in the portfolio of reward tools in leader's kit bag.  However, a full kit bag includes the personal touch and can be far more impactful than any tangible reward. The colleague who got that note from me is still telling stories about it almost five years after the event.  

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