At the Academy, this past week we wrote acknowledgements for each of our colleagues. It’s an exercise the Academy team repeats each January, reflecting on the prior year and how each person has made a difference for us individually. It allowed me to stop and reflect about each of my co-workers; on their strengths, natural talents, and the skills and qualities they contribute. These traits are what makes our team of “A-players” so powerful, passionate and tenacious in providing transformational services to law firms across the country and demonstrates our commitment to making a difference.
Our acknowledgements were designed to include one thing that inspires us and one thing that we appreciate or admire about each person. Acknowledgements can take any form as long as they are an expression of appreciation or recognition of an action taken, contribution or accomplishment.
Expressing gratitude and appreciation for others, is one of the most underutilized but highly valuable tools for building powerful, high-performing teams. However, as a culture, we’re terrible at it, both in expressing and accepting acknowledgement. Sure, we acknowledge someone when they produce some extraordinary result, those are hard to miss… but what about everyone else on your team and their daily dedication? We don’t accomplish anything alone, it takes teamwork, which divides the responsibilities and multiplies success. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” So practice being in the moment, consistently acknowledge your team members individually for their contributions and efforts; don’t let them fade into the background and don’t take their efforts for granted.
We can also build our muscle at accepting acknowledgements and recognition. So often we feel a little anxious or uncomfortable, lose eye contact, and maybe even deflect, “it was nothing, I was just doing my job.” Consider that an acknowledgement is a gift and an expression of what’s important to the person making the acknowledgement. When we fail to accept the recognition they’re giving us, it’s also a failure to recognize and appreciate them and their gift. Instead, be observant and mindful of your reply… a simple “thank you” will suffice.
Take a minute, now, and reflect on your capacity to express gratitude, thank others and acknowledge how they’ve made a difference or successfully tackled an obstacle. Also, notice your ability to accept recognition as generosity and an expression of others, rather than minimizing it.
How often do you acknowledge your team and the people around you? When was the last time you were acknowledged? I invite you to practice saying “thank you” and taking a figurative standing ovation.
Practice Leadership Coach
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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