Monday, November 4, 2013

On Leadership and Appreciation

I overheard a conversation in the airport the other day that was unusually profound.  It was between two men, one older and one younger by probably 20 years or more.  The older man looked and sounded like a member of the clergy-- or maybe a liberal arts professor.  The younger man was expressing concerns about not being fully appreciated at work.

Paraphrased, here's what the older fellow advised to the younger fellow about being under-appreciated:

"Don't settle for being unappreciated.  Find a better job.  You can do better.  Also keep in mind that humans, especially Americans, appreciate absence more than they appreciate presence.  Take away water, oxygen, money, shelter, health... a life... or a good employee... and you'll see a different level of appreciation in that absence.  We give posthumous medals and throw parties and parades when people die to show we appreciate them, but what good does that do?  You should keep looking for a job and the company of people who appreciate you, but realize that for most humans, we appreciate absence more than presence."

Throughout my career, it's not unusual for me to be labeled as being too effusive in my compliments and expressions of appreciation to employees, and thus lacking sincerity-- that my compliments and appreciation are so frequent and over the top, they must be fake.  Nothing could be further from the truth, so I stick to the behavior despite the occasional label.  I'd rather risk the label of being a fake, and face the Pearly Gates with the sin of being too appreciative, rather than being too little.  The Pearly Gates understand the sincerity.

Appreciate the presence.


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