Friday, February 27, 2009

Leadership Tip - Just Say Thank You

I was listening to an interview on radio with the legendary but controversial coach, Bobby Knight.  During the interview, he made a very simple point on leadership - the importance of thanking people who help us along the way, every day.   I'm no fan of Bobby Knight but I do think he makes an excellent point.

In our hurried, "what have you done for me lately" lives, saying "thank you", just isn't common practice anymore.  Yet, it's absolutely foundational for leadership.   Obviously, it's not simply the words but the expression of gratitude that makes a difference.   To grasp this leadership tip, it's important to view this not simply as a technique for manipulating others but rather to consider how this is essentially biblical in spirit -

1. Saying "thank you" is a recognition that those who help us or work with us are "eikons" - bearers of the image of God, not simply "resources" to get the job done.   

2. Saying "thank you" is one way we show honor and express care to others.  "Outdo one another in showing honor" Romans 12: 10

3. Saying "thank you" to others just overflows from a grateful heart to God.   If you're grateful for God's help through the common means of your colleagues and co-workers,  saying "thank you" will come naturally

When I've done this consistently, I find some curious responses besides the typical "you're welcome".   Some will say "I was just doing my job".  Others go to great lengths to explain how what they did was "no big deal" .  Regardless of their response, most are just wonderfully encouraged and strengthened to take on their next challenge.   

What do you think?    How does it make you feel when someone appreciates what you do?  Why wouldn't we make it a regular practice in our lives?


Sam Van Eman said...

I love a timely-placed and well-fitted Thank you. Too often or too much of it feels diluted. None at all makes me irritated, unfortunately, if not, bitter.

But when it's just right, I know the person thought about it and gave it as a gift. That kind makes me want to give back.

Now if I were more like Jesus, I wouldn't need to make these distinctions. I'm working on it.

Every Square Inch said...

Sam - I think if saying thanks becomes a habit, it loses some of its intended effect - the sincerity is questionable.

Although I could definitely think of worse habits than saying thanks

Ted M. Gossard said...

When our consciousness is one of grace, God's grace in Christ, then I think it's just natural to take note of God's grace in others, and express thanks to them, as well as to God for them. True even through "common grace" thus toward anyone, of course.

Anonymous said...

I don't think too many thank yous dilute the effect. I have a habit of saying thank you and I didn't even realize it until one day a staff member of mine pointed out how much she appreciated me thanking her as she leaves at the end of the day. I honestly didn't even realize I was doing it and it apparently did not become diluted over time.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - you're right, when we're more aware of God's grace in Christ, it does overflow in thankful expressions to others

faithandworks - wonderful testimony of how saying thanks makes a difference to others.

Maalie said...

I agree that a little "thank you" goes a long way and is important in leadership, you make a very good point, nice post on that issue.

However, I'm not so sure about "thanking God", who some people assert alleged is responsible for everything that has happened, and will happen, on earth since the beginning of time.

Are thanks due to God for creating a situation in which opposing armies on a battlefield are praying to the same God that each will kill more of the other side than are killed on their own side?

Every Square Inch said...

Maalie - Thanks for your thoughts and questions

As a Christian, I do not view evil and calamity in this world to be the "fault" of God but rather the effect of mankind's rebellion against God.

As a people, we have committed the greatest morally reprehensible act - we rebelled against our Maker. In so doing, we set in motion a course of judgment and calamity. God, in his mercy sent his Son, Jesus Christ to bear the penalty for our sins so that all who believe in him should not perish under this judgment but receive eternal life.

So, no - I do not view God as the one to blame for all this mess. But I do believe that he is the one who will redeem us from it. I know you do not share this glorious view but it is my hope and prayer that you will.

Maalie said...

Every Square Inch: Thank you for your response. I tried to be careful not to use the words "fault" or "blame" (having gone through a divorce, I know just how futile these words are!).

However, I have heard it asserted that God is omniscient and omnipotent. He is reputed to have created the world and everything in it, and is supposed to know everything, including what is going to happen in the future. So I am curious to know why he should, in his supreme sovereignty, have put in place a system where Mankind would rebel against him?

For example, do you give thanks to God that the majority of humankind will never know Jesus because He (in his omnipotence) caused them to be born into cultures that would never know the bible? (Apparently you can only reach God through Jesus and if you have no access to the bible - say, in an Islam culture - you will never know God).

These issues trouble me.

(Incidentally, I found you from Halfmom's blog, where we have some good discussions, as you may have seen).