Imagine: you are a very accomplished woman who has built a very well respected organization. Your efforts produce a marketable business that is eventually bought out by a larger institution. After preparing for the next phase of the company’s development, you step down from your role, and the office moves in with its new parent company. During the transition, employees and management forget to communicate to you the exact date of the move. This void is realized one day when you turn up to your office to see all the work you had been laboring on for months gone. There is no one left in the office, and there is no word to you of your employees’ departure. Your accomplishments have lead you to the saddest day of your career.
This was a reality for one of the leading African woman I interviewed.
This story is a travesty in many ways. The most hurtful thing of all was that no one ever said, “Thank you.” No one seemed to care about the months of dedication and commitment she had put into ensuring everyone had a bright future. She was left alone.
Get into the confidence of any entrepreneur, managing director, or CEO, and they will eventually tell you that “it’s lonely at the top.”
While people in these positions often receive lots of accolades, they are also the first to be criticized when a company’s performance is substandard. They are the ones who sail the ship, and not many want to get too close to the helm. From this position, when you are at a company party, people often speak to you because they have to, not because they want to.
Being the leader of an organization is an often-sought brass ring. And yet so few employees want to be seen fraternizing with the top dog.
It could be…
- We don’t want to be perceived as someone trying to butter up the boss
- We don’t want the boss to inquire about what we’re really doing all day
- We don’t want to bother them, figuring they are too busy
- We are intimidated and don’t have the confidence to carry a conversation.
And I am sure there are many other reasons. What is yours?
No matter what you perceive to be true, the reality is they are your own perception and limitations.
I challenge you to love your leader.
Ask them about their weekend.
Take an interest in their passions, be it stamp collecting, a particular sport, or giving to the orphanage.
Let them know that you found their speech at this or that meeting or event compelling and motivating. “Particularly when you said…”
And please, say thank you when they give you something, take you to lunch, coach you, anything…it should never be expected.
A little love can go a long way.
Sure it may appear that you’re buttering up your boss if you do this in front of others, but if you are genuine, your colleagues and your boss will know. Nothing without authenticity is worth sharing. The other option is to acknowledge their contribution when you happen to be in a meeting alone with them. This will reduce other people’s perceptions of political jockeying. Or you can provide a more subtle compliment by building on an idea that they originated. The key is to love your leader, and let them know.
As a leader myself, to receive an acknowledgement from my team is often a bigger highlight than from a client. Especially when you are a smaller organization, having your team’s support is not only critical to your success, but also critical to your growth as a person, and as a company.
So love your leader. There is a good chance they will love you back.
Action: Make it a point to demonstrate some form of appreciation to your boss. Make sure you’re genuine, but let them know you appreciate them. You will have made their week!
Visit our other Ignite Excellence Group of initiatives’ websites with corresponding blogs.
Suzanne F Stevens – Profiling women leaders who have pushed their edge to personal or professional potential from backpack to briefcase to boardroom
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Leadership, Advocacy, Education – following donations to scholarships for women in developing countries
Wisdom Exchange TV – A forum where women will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics.
You Me & We – a husbands and wife’s journey through Africa in 2011/12
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influence, Differentiate, Engage more people and more business – a training & development company