What is the best compliment you have ever received? This is a question for you to answer and to file away for discussion starters in the future. There are compliments like, “Good job,” or “That was a great song,” or “You married up,” that reflect on behavior or circumstances but there are a few which address character and stick with a person through the years. Those compliments that are reflections of the windows of one’s soul are the ones that I want to write about today.
There have been two times that I recall when colleagues have given me a compliment that strengthened my resolve to continue working hard. I’m sure they did not even realize the impact they were making at the time.
Many years ago I was working in commission sales with a financial services company. My mentor was a hard-charging, amiable guy who was a friend as well as a supervisor. After a particularly stressful month for my team of 75 independent agents, he told me, “Patterson, the thing I like most about you is that you just keep getting up. Every time this business knocks you down, you get back up!” I did not stay in that business long because of changes to the company but that comment has given me comfort and the impetus to try again many, many times.
The other enduring compliment was from a teacher who worked with me at a school for at-risk high school kids. I had worked with these students, in that type of environment, for 10 years and, as the director of the school, was responsible for the performance of the school and all the teachers. When this particular teacher came to work with us, she and I did not agree on much of anything. After about 6 months, she called me aside to talk briefly. She said, “One thing that I have noticed about your leadership is that you never throw anyone under the bus!”
I have been involved in leadership and human relations for many years and have seen how these two concepts can keep a leader going and successful.
To summarize: There are two things about leadership that are extremely influential to those around you: Resilience and responsibility. When employees see these two characteristics consistently demonstrated in the life of a leader, loyalty results. The resilience and responsibility then become part of the team’s character, too.