We’re posting from the United States, where we’re celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thanksgiving’s a great reminder to all of us that gratitude is one of the most powerful engagement tools a manager can use. When used honestly and sincerely, it’s impossible to over use.

But in reality, we’re probably each a little guilty of under using it.

The crab from The Little Mermaid looks crabby, has a crabby personality, and is clearly throwing a fit (and his lettuce). Hasn’t there been a time you’ve felt this way?  Maybe even lots of times?

It goes to say then, that probably your employees and maybe even your bosses feel this way too.  No one really can appreciate what each person goes through to accomplish something.  Complicated accomplishments take skill, knowledge, support, time, effort, confidence, and dedication.

Folks that make these things look easy could use more acknowledgement and gratitude – since they’re unlikely to throw their lettuce down and say, “I hope you appreciate what I go through for you”.  By the time someone says and does something like that, they’re feeling disengaged.

So even if you’re feeling a little under appreciated, take a moment to think about someone that could be more appreciated and extend a bit of gratitude their way. “Thank you” is nice, but even better hit these points:

  • Be specific
  • Acknowledge the effort
  • Share the impact

Sebastian the Crab dodged and distracted the ship’s cook and overcame numerous attempts on his life so that Ariel (the Little Mermaid) was able to attract the attention of Prince Eric, her one true love. While “Thank you” is nice, talking about how he really impacted the story would’ve been nicer, had Ariel been focusing on her leadership skills.

Make the gesture appropriate to the task and the gratitude, a little celebration of work well done. You could make their day.

Vision and Perseverance

I think that mouse was thinking, “I’ve hit the motherlode with this cracker!  I’m taking it home!”

Vision is, “the ability to think about and plan for the future with imagination or wisdom”  and, ” a mental image of what the future will or could be like”.

Great leaders have always had extraordinary vision and the ability to paint the picture of what a vision of the future would be like.

Meanwhile, making the vision happen usually takes the effort of more than one leader. Though not in the case of this mouse,  it takes followers that are also leaders.  Folks that get things done… that execute.

Perseverance is  defined as, “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”.

Often times the idea person gets and takes the credit for the vision, but the reality is that the execution is as, if not more, important.  And that often takes more than a little motivation, energy, and perseverance. And high hopes.

Stop, Start, and Continue

Stop Light

Ever heard this? “Winners never quit and quitters never win”

I don’t think that’s wise.  Wise winners quit. In fact, people that don’t quit get stuck – and then don’t have room, bandwidth, and energy to get other, more impactful things done.

Perspective on what to do can come from within (reflection) and from others (feedback). Either way – a good, balanced model for yourself and those you manage relates to the stoplight:

  • Stop
  • Start
  • Continue

It’s pretty self explanatory, right? The important part is to balance the elements out.  Why?  Because for every stop, there’s a start and a continue (it’s aggravating to be stuck at stop all the time). The stoplight model addresses a more ‘feed forward’ approach, so you think and talk about what you’re going to do differently the next time, not how things could’ve been better the last time.

Try the stoplight way of giving yourself and others feedback instead of the ‘sandwich’ feedback model where positive stuff sandwiches the negative.

Changing and growing is a continual process of starting, quitting, and learning. Let me know how it works for you.

The 5th P

Middle Seats marketing-mix

Marketing is about right product, right place, right promotion, right price. Leading consists of marketing your ideas and making things happen. There’s a new ‘P’ in the mix. Perspective.

When it comes to learning leadership, online classes, reading books, training classes often miss the perspective part. Perspective comes from pulling out of the trenches and looking around. Getting feedback. Making predictions. Understanding others. Finding mentors.  Getting coaching and coaching others.

Don’t forget the 5th P.

What’s the Goal?

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else”

 -Yogi Berra

Goals are powerful things. Maybe your boss has set some goals. Maybe you have company goals. From my experience, the best and most powerful ones are the ones I OWN.

What the heck does that mean?

OWNed goals are ones that I believe I can achieve, bring me satisfaction, and fit with my values. The goals that fall apart, that I don’t achieve, invariably do not meet those criteria.

Stay tuned for more about goal setting.