JS Tip 46: From the Leadership Workshops: The Power of Recognition


This tip is personal; please forgive that.

Years ago, my wife and I visited a state hospital for the mentally disabled. (In those days, it was called a state hospital for the mentally retarded, but that’s another story.) We visited the children.

We noticed one little fellow’s hand was bandaged, and we asked why. The guide explained that a few days earlier, one of the little guys ran after a toy, tripped on the carpet, thrust out his hand to break his fall, broke a window, and cut his hand.

The counselors and nurses and aides swooped down on this little guy and picked him up and carried him to the sink. They washed the cut and kissed the boo-boos away.

They found a bottle of Bactine and sprayed the cut. “Whoosh! goes the Bactine! Down go the mean old germs!”

They found a package of Donald Duck bandages. “Look! Donald Duck! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”

The little guy’s sobs turned to smiles.

The next day, two little guys punched their hands through windows.

But why?

Because these very special young people would do anything—risk physical injury, risk physical pain—to receive attention. To be noticed.

So what might we learn as leaders? To recognize our people. To praise them in public. To give them credit in publications.

The recognition is time well spent. And it’s the right thing to do.