Daily Leadership Thought #154 – The Importance of Acknowledgment

June 15, 2011

The power of acknowledgement | PMI - Philip Morris International

Success should warrant acknowledgment, especially amongst peer groups.

In the past, I have had the good fortune to be part of an annual awards banquet that recognizes entrepreneurs here in Frederick County, MD.   It was nice to see so many people in the same room acknowledging their peers.  It was also invigorating to hear the stories of so many entrepreneurs who have pursued their dreams, taken great risks, and overcome many obstacles.  We all tend to forget how important small business owners are to our communities.  They are the backbone of our society in terms of job creation, quality of life, and innovation.  Unlike many of their large corporate counterparts, they are usually focused on their own localities and aren’t shifting jobs or profits overseas.

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated.  It is basic human nature.  Hard work, determination, and skill should be recognized.  It’s been proven by many studies that top performers in all occupations like it when you keep score.  It is not so much to feed their ego but more about being transparent about results and progress.   In addition, you can only move the bar if you know where it is right now.  Besides, our innate competitive nature likes to know how we are doing vis-à-vis our peers and colleagues.

It is important for recognition and praise to be thoughtful, genuine, and sincere.  Not everyone is special all the time.  Not all efforts are worthy of praise.  I am troubled by our tendency these days to give kids trophies and medals for just participating rather than accomplishing something.  We also have a disturbing trend in the last few years of many business and trade magazines establishing and giving out awards as a strategy to encourage the recipients to advertise in their publications, which just diminishes their legitimacy.  Results still matter! Acknowledgment should always be based on authentic not contrived accomplishment.

I encourage you to identify and acknowledge real accomplishment in your companies, organizations, and communities.  It does take some time and effort to make this happen, but it is worth it.   The people on the receiving end will appreciate it.  They are certainly deserving of the attention.   It will also inspire others to achieve similar heights and give them role models to follow so they know how to get there.

Acknowledgment both recognizes and stimulates high performance.