Not long ago, I had the fun honor of watching one of my granddaughters in a basketball game. She is early in her basketball career, so the skill level of all the kids was at the beginner stage. Nonetheless, it was striking to see how important it was for the kids to have someone in the stands to see them. After almost every good play, the kids paused to look for their parents, grandparents, or friends in the stands, in effect to say, “Did you see that? Are you watching me?” In a way, they are saying, “It’s good to have someone here to see me. Thanks for coming!” It gives a grandfather a great feeling to know that it made a difference for her to see me in the stands for her game.
When I was a kid, I played every sport available. My parents probably attended over 95% of my games. Personally, it made a difference knowing that they cared enough to make the effort… putting other things aside, leaving work early, or delaying their own interests. And, it was great at home after the game having someone to talk about key plays and situations. I think the one exception was the time my mother was almost ejected from a game for yelling too much at the referee… we didn’t talk about that one much at home.
Being a leader is an important calling. Sure, maybe it is a choice, but it is also a calling… something so important that it can be life-changing for those you lead. But, leaders often miss terrific opportunities to demonstrate that they care when they fail to see those things their teammates do. In a way, leaders are like those parents in the stands. When their teammates do something special, they want to know, “Did you see that?” They want to know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated.
Showing that you care doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. It can be something as simple as a quick email saying, “I appreciate the way you organized and handled that important meeting yesterday.” Or, “Maybe I don’t say it enough, but I appreciate what you do to make this a better place.” Showing you care is often not much more than being there.
I remember once early in my career when I was still trying to find my way in the corporate world. I was trying to make an impact and frequently volunteered to do more than might have been expected. One morning, I came into work feeling like I was in a bit of a rut… the weather was cold and dreary, I was tired, and it was an effort to just get the day going. When I arrived, there was a very short hand-written note on my desk that simply said, “Hey, I just appreciate all the things you’ve been doing lately. It’s great to have you on the team. Thanks.” Wow! What a difference that little note made for me! I kept that note for years.
We are all capable of making a difference, if we’ll just do it. Think back to those days when you paused to look for your parents in the stands. It spurs us to doing more and giving more than we would have otherwise, when we know someone cares. When one of your teammates asks, “Did you see that?” Make sure they know you care. Let them SEE your support, not just HEAR it.
Have a great day!