Leadership skills and relationship skills go hand-in-hand. A leader’s relationship skills are at the very heart of successful management.

relationship skillsI have a post-holiday question. What is the most cherished gift that you received in 2022?

I have been thinking about this as the holiday decorations are returned to their boxes and the gifts are placed in the closet or in a pile to be returned or re-gifted. I have an observation about the most important gift that I received, and I am wondering if you received it last year? If so, how often? The gift is not under a tree, or even in the store, and you can’t buy it online. It doesn’t even break anyone’s bank account. Most important, it is something that everyone needs both at work and at home.

What is the one gift that will make everyone feel valued? I have seen time and time again in leading our leadership seminars, when I ask the question- How many of you receive too much acknowledgment, appreciation, and respect at home or work? Almost always, the participants respond with unanimous and uncomfortable laughter.

How can this be? Well, as companies are faced with a combination of quiet quitting, unexpected resignations and people who would prefer to be independent contractors rather than permanent employees, what is missing? I contend that what is missing, is the critical relationship skills and leadership skills of being able to offer a few words of appreciation, sincere acknowledgment for a job well done, or the grit, communication skills, and coordination necessary to achieve those results. How about sharing your respect for another when they clearly rise above expectations. Or simply offering a sincere and generous thank you for stepping in when it’s needed, such as when the company is short staffed, an emergency arises on a weekend, or when an urgent but thankless task is necessary and someone steps in to handle it knowing someone else will surely get the credit.

An underused tool of leadership is the expression of acknowledgment, appreciation, and respect. This is considered organizational love – something most people do not receive nearly enough of, and many are stingy with giving. Part of the reason is, we don’t hear it when it is given. We certainly hear the critical feedback loud and clear, but the acknowledgment of a “thank you” not so much. That is the important reason that when we show our appreciation for someone or something they have done, it must be timely, specific, and sincere. Do not wait for performance review time. It is often too late.

In 2023 you can begin the year by sharpening your relationship skills and leadership skills in these three ways:

  1. Think about your personal and professional network, and list those people who have contributed to your success, but who perhaps you have neglected to acknowledge.
  1. Consider what you want to say to them to sincerely convey your appreciation for the contributions they have made to your life. Write that down as specifically and in as much detail as possible. Being concrete now will allow you to be spontaneous in the moment.
  1. Plan for the best way to communicate to them. Perhaps it is a phone call, a personal handwritten note, treating them to a lunch of appreciation or even inviting them to a walk together, as numerous people are looking to increase their steps.

I promise you will receive as much as you give. Small gestures go a long way, and they aren’t so small. With practice, showing our thanks in a variety of ways contributes to our own joy in life and the lives of others.

Feel free to share your ideas on related topics or drop me a note after you take these powerful actions. The time is now! I will be walking this path with you.

Karen Kaufman, MSOD

Karen Kaufman is a lifelong curious observer of herself and others. Her decades of experience in leadership development with premier organizations contributes to the success of her clients- accelerating the leadership capacity of their executives and emerging talent. Leveraging her master’s degree in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, and providing over 20,000 hours of Executive Coaching, and conducting over 1000 programs, Karen substantiates that people skills and relationship skills are at the very heart of successful leadership.

As a dedicated entrepreneur, Karen also coaches and advises motivated entrepreneurs to leverage their substantial experience and expand their business opportunities.