When Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, addresses employees in, he often gets emotional. He likes to praise their contribution to the company’s success, and this stokes his passion for his work.
Robb admits that he gets “choked up” when expressing gratitude to employees.
Robb’s displays of emotion inspire loyalty, commitment and higher-level performance. Because employees view him as an authentic leader who’s unafraid of revealing a softer side, they feel more motivated to excel.
Even if you’re not particularly demonstrative with your emotions, follow Robb’s lead and look for opportunities to convey gratitude. This builds trust and goodwill while also instilling a sense of collective mission. Recognizing employees for their dedication and diligence reinforces the importance of their work and its greater good.
For some leaders, praising others requires conscious effort. You might think you should thank a particular employee, but more pressing concerns interfere.
If expressing gratitude doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s easy to find excuses to avoid it. You may figure the time isn’t right, you might come across as insincere or you don’t want to break an employee’s concentration. Or you may fear that your praise will lead the recipient to seek a pay raise or make other demands.
Emotionally intelligent leaders overcome such obstacles. They appreciate others’ perspectives and level with them in part to forge stronger connections.
— Adapted from “Using the power of acknowledgment to engage your employees,” Judith Umlas, www.tanveernaseer.com.