Leadership is a complex topic, however three simple words can go a long way to ensuring effectiveness: “please”, “sorry” and “thank-you”. Let’s look at why this is so:

“Please” – There are two ways to get people to do things, namely the carrot and the stick. The “stick” ranges from “I need you to do the following” to “if you don’t do the following the consequences will be…”. The carrot is simply “Can you please… (with rationale)”. How would you like tasks to be delegated to you? I am certain that be vast majority of tasks can be delegated as requests and not orders. And by taking the time to provide context, others will be more self-motivated and will be far more likely to access their own resourcefulness and creativity in getting things done.

“Sorry” – Have you ever worked with someone who has “it is not my fault” stamped on their forehead? Do you enjoy working with someone like that? Mistakes, even big ones, are a normal part of life. Trust me, eat a few “humble pills” once in a while and admit your own mistakes and weaknesses. You will find that instead of trying to point them out, your colleagues switch to trying to help you get better. According to leadership guru Patrick Lencioni (author of “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team”), admitting our own fears, weaknesses and mistakes is the foundation of building trust with others.

“Thank-you” – Do you know that the single biggest motivational factor in the workplace is to receive recognition? We consistently find when using tools such as 360 feedback, that many (if not most) managers do not score very high in this area. The reason typically has nothing to do with skills – instead they simply don’t realize how important it is, or they simply forget to do it. Has someone around you done something amazing in the last 7 days? If yes, go and let them know – you won’t be sorry and nor will they!

We all learn about these words in the first 3 years of our life. But sadly, not all of us do all three in the workplace. It is never too late to start – again.

Russel Horwitz, Principal