Your Leadership Wake: As A Leader, How Do You Acknowledge Others?

Leadership Lesson: How you acknowledge others allows them to feel heard and like a part of the mission, while setting the example for how others serve, work and interact with others.

This previous post had broken down the power and influence of leadership impact and introduced this series of posts covering where the wake from a leader’s actions can be observed and felt.

It outlined how a leader — or anyone, for that matter — can create and leave behind a positive, exhausting, or neutral experience for those around them, based on how they approach different areas such as collaboration, communication, and expression.

It asked us to consider what a leader leaves in their wake.

This post is one of many in the series which breaks down a few of the areas in which a leader has the ability – and opportunity, depending on how you look at it – to establish their impact and set the resulting ripple effect and tone for each of the areas to be covered.

To assess a targeted area of their leadership impact, each post will outline a consideration the leader should take into account by answering a specific question.

In this post, the question which should be asked by a leader is…

How Do I Acknowledge Others?

It is important for a leader to consider how it is they interact with and address others. A leader’s approach to others makes all the difference, and that difference exists in the details and the nuances which exist in interactions and acknowledgements. It also sets the stage for how the players in the environment contribute to the environment and how they view both the leader and the mission.

So how does your acknowledgement of others shape the leadership impact? What does it look like in the positive, exhausting, or neutral experience?

The Positive Experience

In the positive experience, it’s almost hard to pick out who the official leader is. There is more conversation than directive. The atmosphere is very comfortable and open.

As a result, the workforce feels more connected to both the leader and the mission. On the worker/person continuum, they become more of a person with a face and stake in the game and less of a number on a roster of workers.

Because there’s something to be said for how someone is addressed, acknowledgement sets the tone for the relationship. The result is more commitment to, and understanding of, the work.

This is the positive experience because of the connection and commitment the workers feel toward the work itself. They feel like a lateral and equal player in the mission, and not a subordinate.

The Exhausting Experience

In the exhausting experience, a leader, through his or her body language and words, lets others know who is boss. They may talk in a condescending tone, either questioning another person’s abilities through their words, or intimidating someone through their body language.

Through these types of interactions, the environment might even become toxic. As a result, the workforce feels turned off to the needs of the leader and the organization.

The result is a stumbling work environment. The work may fail to deliver, and the reputation of the organization fails as its workforce’s pathway is obstructed by that toxic environment.

This is the exhausting experience because people begin to check out due to how they are addressed by leadership. Some may respond in-kind, while others continue to do their work to the best of their ability, but overall productivity suffers because so much of the workforce feels let down.

The Neutral Experience

In the neutral experience, there is nothing beyond the facts of the work. There is strictly a transaction of information that takes place — and that’s that. There is no more and no less. The interaction is meant to transfer information and establish responsibility and duties.

As a result, the workforce feels more like a butcher shop staff, waiting for the next order they would need to work to fulfill. The leader doesn’t speak to the worker but instead, more or less, at the worker.

The result is a workplace that stumbles along. It does no better; it does no worse. There is no life in the workplace.

This is the neutral experience because those in the workplace neither feel a connection to energetically tie them to the work (positive experience) nor do they feel any aggression in the message or action which would turn them off to the mission (negative experience).

This is one of those free tools that provides effectiveness in the workplace – how one acknowledges others.

It sets the tone for how people interact. Many people can either benefit or suffer based on how acknowledgement is carried out. Besides the benefactors in any given situation in the positive experience, others may benefit because they witness that proper level of acknowledgement.

On the flipside, others may witness a poor example of acknowledgement, and become discouraged from seeking interaction with leaders and taking risks to improve the work.

Questions to consider for the leadership wake:

So, What About You?

  • What does your acknowledgement of others look like?
  • Looking back, based on different forms and levels of acknowledgement, how did that shape working relationships?
  • What tweaks can you make in your acknowledgement of others to improve interactions?

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