Leaders Say Thank You

Leadership is the art and science of making people better.  Leadership is about motivating other to succeed at being the best person they can be, at doing the best job they can do.  Leadership has many parts, one of those is rewarding success. The easiest and what should be most common way to reward success is to say thanks.

Last year, I was working on a large project that touched every team in technology at Conde Nast as the project owner for six pieces. It involved many late nights, a few early mornings, and more work-related text messages on weekends than any person should ever have to deal with. While many of the people working on the project only worked on a small piece, after each piece I sent an email to the entire technology team thanking everyone by name who worked on that piece. It was my small contribution. Part of what motivated me was the fact that my boss’s boss replied each time congratulating us on the accomplishment and thanking us for doing it. It was 15 seconds of effort, but it stood out to me.

Publicly saying thanks, commending the me and all the individuals for the work, made it feel like the work I did actually mattered.

The extrinsic motivations for work are often easy to recognize but can be short lived. Intrinsic motivation is much longer lasting. Being recognized for the work we do by saying thank you is one way to help improve the intrinsic motivation of people. If you think someone did a good job: say thank you.  If you think someone has put in a lot of effort: say thank you.  It takes just a little time, but if you say it and mean it, you can really make that person’s day.

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