Leadership and Fish Vomit

Leadership is weird.  On one hand, being a strategic part of proactive and effective organizational transformation and change is exciting and invigorating.  But on the other hand, being a part of such change can also be exhausting and draining.  Sometimes it is one, and sometimes it is the other.  And there are times when it is both.  Right now, I am firmly entrenched in both.

Over the years, I have come to see that how we experience our own leadership is connected to how we receive (and give) appreciation.  Each of us has a primary language of appreciation and it is often directly related to whether we feel invigorated or drained, in terms of our own leadership.

For example, my primary language of appreciation is verbal affirmation.  I give encouragement through words, and I receive encouragement through words.  Now of course, as a leader, I need to be conversant in more languages of appreciation than just my own, as I have a team to lead.  For me, though, words spoken to me or about me have a significant effect on how I perceive my own leadership.

All that to say … I received three written affirmations today, in three totally different contexts, that came at just the right time for me!  I received an email that made me laugh out loud (I’ll tell you about it in just a minute), a business card with a note on it stuffed in my truck window, and a Facebook message.  The business card note said “Thank you for being you“, the Facebook message said “Thank you for being authentic and real“, and the email said .. get ready for this … “hopefully we won’t smell like fish vomit“.  Wait, what?!?

The full quote was “I am sending you a note of encouragement … I would like to encourage you in your direction and focus for Westwood.  With God as your rudder, the seas will never be completely calm and at times REALLY ROUGH.  But the destination will be true, and hopefully when we get to the beaches, we won’t smell like fish vomit.  LOL“.  Crazy, right?  But tucked away in the middle of the weird nautical imagery is a message to “be encouraged, stay strong, don’t quit”.  Great message, isn’t it?

So … here is my request to each of you who reads this.  This week, look for someone who is playing a leadership role in your life or organization.  Figure out your leader’s language of appreciation and then encourage them!  Write them a note, buy them a gift, spend time with them.  Do what you have to do so that they have a great week!  They will probably be more thankful than you’ll ever know.

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