Updated: Nov 25, 2020
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When was the last time you took a moment and thanked someone for something they did for you? Was it a formal thank you note, or was it just something you said in passing? The little things matter, and saying “thanks” can seem insignificant and little to you, but the person on the receiving end does not think it is insignificant or little. It matters.
It is so important as leaders to remember that those who you lead are doing the work for you and with you. When we stop to acknowledge that, we might realize that our strength and our outcomes are because of those we lead. Of course, the way we lead can impact the quality of our product, but you wouldn’t be producing the end result without your team. I have been part of many teams where the “leaders” seem to forget that there is a team working behind them, and the credit is often taken by that one leader. When that happens, the team feels let down and, maybe not the first time it happens, but if it continues to happen we lose trust and ambition to create the best product. Changing this is really pretty simple. Stopping to acknowledge the team, and saying thank you!
Saying thank you can go a long way, and is never the wrong thing to do. Recognizing good work is important as well, but when we stop and share gratitude for the little things that often go unnoticed, this is where you will have the greatest impact as a leader.
Building this in student leaders is pretty simple, but it takes more modeling then it does telling. If you take the time to reflect on the day or week and write out a thank you note for 5-10 students every week, it may take you 10 weeks to cycle through all your students, but some of these students may never have had anyone write them a note of true gratitude. And again, it doesn’t have to be a major feat achieved, often it is the things that go overlooked that have the greatest impact on a thank you.
You might be pleasantly surprised to see a shift in classroom behavior with this small act of gratitude. I received a thank you note from my lead teacher this summer that simply said, “thank you for the desire to improve as a teacher and professional,” it makes me want to do more. Not all leaders forget to say thank you, but when it comes from a place of true teamwork, it feels incredible. So when you thank your student for: saying hello to another classmate, offering their pencil (pre-Covid), or smiling at you or their classmates when they walked in, they will know those things matter, and when they matter to you and them, they start to notice where they can add a little more. It has to be genuine - what did they do to change the course of theirs or someone else’s day? It has to matter. Did it make a difference? Then find a way to thank them. IT MATTERS!
Please leave a comment or response:
Who was the last person that thanked you?
If this post speaks to you, I encourage you to write two thank you notes right now, and share this post with someone else. If you think the ideas I am sharing could be useful in a training session for you or your school - please contact me today for a discovery conversation to see if we are a good fit. I really want to spread the world with strong, confident leaders. I can work with teachers, students or your own children, there is really nothing we can’t try.