It’s Time for Acknowledgment

It’s been a week that I have considered heavy, aware of how the lives of so many fellow Africans have been affected.

And it is at times such as these that I look around and appreciate what we have, and what is working. I also realize that there are so many people I interact with that I haven’t appreciated for a while.

This is not about Flattery

Appreciation, or acknowledgment is not an act of flattery. With flattery, there is the element of excessive and insincere praise. Acknowledgment, on the other hand, is the sincere recognition or favorable notice of an act of achievement. One can argue that most people know acknowledgment is important, but few have had the experience of being truly acknowledged, for being valued.

Providing authentic, relevant affirming acknowledgment to others, is for leaders an essential capacity and quality.  Done honesty and effectively, engaging in a conversation for acknowledgment can give others the energy to create something new for the future. Indeed, high achievers, have a high need for appreciation, and sincere expressions of appreciation motivate individuals and teams to optimal performance.

What’s stopping us? The Culture of Embarrassment.

We may feel shy of giving acknowledgment, and that may be because of fear of rejection, or losing glory for oneself. In an organizational context, an employer may refrain from acknowledging team members because of fear of having to give a raise for having done so.

I too often find myself uncomfortable when being fully acknowledged – I sometimes feel embarrassed. Perhaps, what stops us from receiving acknowledgement include fear of being manipulated, or having to repeat what one was acknowledged for. As leadership development consultant Sharon Knoll explains, many talented, high-potential people suffer from what Maslow called the ‘Jonah complex’: the fear of their own personal greatness.

Sharon also adds that acknowledgment has people move to the next level of expressing their greatness in a way that honors the highest potential of everyone involved – including themselves.

Who will you acknowledge today?

So, during such times, when we may perhaps need to look after and energize each other, a little bit  more, let’s look around and see who deserves a praise today, perhaps because of what they have done just now. Or it’s never too late to acknowledge someone for a past gesture or accomplishment. Who is that person? Are they next to you? If so, look them straight in the eye, and very sincerely, with specificity and detail, tell them specifically what you are thanking them for.

Or if someone is walking up to YOU, right now, be present to what they have to say, and thank them deeply. No need to do anything else.

Many thanks to my great teachers Sharon Knoll, Allan Henderson and Dr. Monica Sharma for having taught me the depth and simplicity of so many leadership principles.

Eager to keep on growing as a leader? Join us at the AWiB May Forum, held on 7th May 2015, having the theme: ‘Leadership in Action!’