A few years ago my wife made the mistake of allowing our oldest son to go to an early Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s home. He came home raving about “the best meal he had ever had in his life.” Well the time came for our family Thanksgiving dinner, which my wife had spent days preparing, and all my son could do was compare every dish to the masterpiece he had devoured earlier. This, of course, put her in a very sour mood. It was especially sad because our meal tasted fantastic. But all anybody could hear through that Thanksgiving holiday was that no matter how good the meal in front of them was, someone else had done it better. It resulted in my wife not getting the recognition she deserved for her great execution and work.
The vast majority of us don’t recognize others often enough. If you need data on the power of recognition, just think about the last time someone said, “You did a great job!” or, “You really do that very well!” It’s a great feeling to be recognized.
But in the spirit of the holiday, I looked at an assessment where we measured the extent to which leaders recognized others (along with 56 other behaviors). We looked at 5,000 evaluations of 331 leaders. We looked at the direct reports of leaders and found that 11% rated their leader as needing to improve in recognition. Twenty-five percent indicated their leader was okay. Sixty-four percent said recognizing others was their leader’s strength or even a significant strength. Looking at that data it seems obvious that about one third of the population could benefit from improving their ability to recognize others.