August 2014 Newsletter – Leadership Essential: Appreciation

Letter from the EditorLetter from the Editor

Last week as Susan and I traveled through the mountains near our home, we happened upon a herd of goats; a very large herd of goats! There had to of been several hundred of them all being wrangled by a handful of goat herders, dogs and horses. It was really something to see, and I was amazed at how clearly one could see the hierarchy within this group.

Of course, the top level was made up of the goat herders themselves. They commanded respect simply by their actions, confidence, the way they communicated, and sheer commitment to keep the herd moving in a safe and unified direction. The next level was made up the “leader” goats. The one’s who clearly had influence over their fellow goats and whom others were willing to follow anywhere, which brings us to the next level… the followers.  The followers simply went in whatever direction the backside in front of them was moving, and then there were the stragglers… the trouble-makers… the rebellious goats who wanted to go their own direction and who required a lot of attention to keep with the herd.

As I watched this process from our car, it occurred to me that this group of goats isn’t much different from a team of humans. You have the primary leader, an executive team that helps direct the masses, the overall team taking action based upon the direction they are lead, and finally, you have those who simply need extra attention and guidance to stay on track. So, which type of “goat” are you? There really isn’t anything wrong with being any one of those as described. After all, each one serves a purpose, even the rebellious goat who just might have a better way of getting to where they want to go.

However, I have to admit that for me, the thought of being a follower in the middle of the herd is certainly the least attractive (if not stinky!) option. And if that is where you are and don’t want to be, it is time to push your way to the front of the herd! We need more leaders in this world who are willing to step up, be bold and committed, lead with confidence and conviction, and make a positive difference. Life is too short for anything else. Just a thought.

Warm Regards,

Clay S. Nelson
Clay S. Nelson

Raising TeensRaising Teens

Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart. It never has been. However, raising teenagers to be more self-sufficient, responsible, respectful, happy, and compassionate is most often about who we are to them as living examples and what we allow them to experience.

Generally speaking, teenagers have a pretty limited view of the world around them, and teens don’t necessarily understand or appreciate what the adults in their lives take on in the teen’s behalf… while they are at school, after the teen goes to bed or while they are texting their friends and posting selfies on Instagram. So, my recommendation to all parents is:

  1. Allow your teenager to do the things that require survival in the world. Teach them how to do laundry and let them do it. Teach them how to do housework so that when they leave the nest they know how to clean a toilet! (You’d be surprised the numbers of young adults I’ve come across that don’t know how to do these things because it was always done for them, which can make for one scary bathroom!)
  2. Teach them how to manage money and let them manage it. Once they make a poor decision and lose it all, they’ll think twice about doing it again. And which is better… wasting a $20 a week allowance or an entire paycheck their first month on a new job?
  3. Teach them the value of community service and making a difference for others and do so together as a family. This will help to create and maintain their connection to the planet, not just their connection to a smart phone or an Twitter.
  4. Have family meetings where you have room to say what you need to as a parent, and possibly even more important, the teenager can say what they need to say, no matter what it is, with the agreement that you listen until they are finished talking. You show them respect… they will show you respect!
  5. Be the question and not the answer. Quit telling your kids what to do and instead ask them what they think they ought to do and listen to their analysis. Then suggest other ways if appropriate. Don’t tell them that they are doing wrong and then what you think is right – of course, unless we are talking about life and limb here… there is a limit! Do give them guidance and coaching and allow them to create a future that they live into and are responsible for.
  6. Last but not least, acknowledge your teen for the great things they do. Encourage and support them. Make sure your teen knows your are their biggest fan and that you do what you do out of love and respect for them.

Just as you, the parent, are responsible for that which you create, plan for, and put into action, your teenager also needs a place to call his/her own. Without an opportunity to create that place on their own, kids eventually end up floundering, unsure, low on self-esteem, and getting into trouble simply out of never having the opportunity to discover who they really are and what they really want for themselves.

For all our good intentions, often times we as parents create in our children the exact opposite of what we had hoped for them. So, next time you do a load of laundry, wash the car, or volunteer at a charitable event, get your kids involved. Yes, even your younger children – the younger you start the better — and allow them to be a responsible member of the family, acknowledge and respect them as such, and you will see a responsible, respectful, connected and compassionate teen emerge before your eyes!

Leadership Essential: AppreciationLeadership Essential: Appreciation

When employees leave their jobs, often they participate in exit interviews. Those exit interviews reveal that many employees decide to leave because they don’t feel valued or appreciated. As leaders of our organizations, we should be aware that even when everything is going well in our organizations—it isn’t the time to just sit back. The employees who are making everything work well need to be appreciated and acknowledged…and often. When things aren’t going as best as they could be within the organization, that’s the time when appreciation is needed even more!

How do you say “thank you” to people without whom you’d be lost? Be specific, base your comments on behavior you have witnessed, and make sure you acknowledge the action soon after it occurred. Appreciation doesn’t have to take long.

Suppose you overhear your employee dealing effectively with a difficult vendor on the phone. When the employee gets off the phone, ask if you can speak to them for a minute. Say something about what you saw and why you liked it. “I overheard the way you handled that vendor on the phone. I really admire your patience and the way you explained the situation to the vendor simply, but not in a condescending way. That went a long way toward enhancing the public impression of our company. Thank you!” This kind praise costs nothing, takes little time, and will absolutely make an employee’s day!

Appreciation is best expressed spontaneously and personally. Don’t delegate to someone else the job of expressing appreciation on your behalf. Do it yourself!

Words of praise often suffice, but if you do give a gift, “wrap” the gift in your words of appreciation. Think about what the person does for you, the team, and your organization. Say your “thank you” face-to-face with a genuinely warm attitude and a smile. Remember: appreciation costs nothing to give! Give it freely, and you’ll be amazed at how far your appreciation will go.

Clay Nelson
Clay Nelson
Founder/President at Clay Nelson Life Balance
Clay Nelson's background includes science, systems analyst, and business management. After 30 years of corporate leadership, Clay knows the key elements that make a business successful, and for more than two decades, Clay has been providing business executives and their teams, from all industries, executive business and professional coaching, mediation, facilitation, planning, system analyses and seminar leadership. Read More »


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