Do you have the time to be a good leader?

My colleague Laura has hit upon what could be the best leadership trick I’ve ever encountered. In her latest writing, she’s shared how all it takes to recognise any person’s contribution is a simple email from top management saying, “thank you”, and “you did good”. This process is not a new one at SAP Concur – Nick, the head of the region, has made it a habit for a while now. But what struck me was just how little time it takes to make a lasting impact in your people’s lives and motivate them to keep doing their best.

Think about it for a moment. Nick only needs to spend about five minutes compiling a short but thoughtful message recognising the individual for his or her work well done. It takes someone like me only five minutes to relay some of the most noteworthy achievements that I’ve seen in my team to Nick. And it takes only five minutes for a direct manager to spot those contributions and mention them to me in a meeting or on a quick WhatsApp message.

We can easily fall into the trap of overcomplicating what it means to be a good leader…until you end up with so many processes and obligations that you have little time for anything else. But Laura’s observations serve as a reminder that all it takes it a little time and a genuinely thankful spirit to lead your people effectively. Often, the most effective actions of a leader are not big gestures or large-scale acts of recognition…but rather, the small and personal touches that show individuals they’re valued for who they are and what they do. It’s something that applies equally to how we treat our employees, our customers, and our partners in the market if we want to grow for the right reasons.

What is the best leadership habit that you have heard or put into practice?

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