An Alchemy of Leadership, in Three Parts

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s explore the three parts of leadership. Hint: Showing appreciation can drastically affect your bottom line.

Part One

A person’s name is the most powerful sound in every language.

Great leaders know that using people’s names makes their leadership more powerful as it is more personal. Think about your first leader: Your mom or dad calling you by your full name with that edge in their voice. You feel it.

Our given name becomes our tag. It tugs on us to gain our attention. Our parents, when they wanted our attention, used our name—and with a recognizable set of tones (happy, exasperated, angry …). Then so did our siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents, our friends, our teachers and so on.

I actually know where people fit in my life from the nickname that they use for me. No one calls me “Stevie” unless they are family or a friend of my youth, or it has “Uncle” attached and they are about 50 years younger than I am now. “Steve-O” is from a period of friends. And “Stephen” is my name, if you ask. “Steve” is generic and easier with my surname.

Part Two

How often do you say thank you? I mean, really say thank you.

Researchers Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino studied the impact of a sincere “thank you” in the workplace. Their findings show a 50-percent increase in productivity as a result of showing appreciation.

In a related experiment, the director of an organization personally thanked half the staff for their contribution to the company. The result? A 50-percent increase in sales calls occurred the following week from the half who had been shown gratitude. That’s a big influence on the bottom line at no cost.

Part Three

Imagine the power of truly saying “thank you” with the person’s name.

I don’t know if it is researched. I do know that it is both common courtesy and common sense. And it is not so commonly used.

It’s Thanksgiving. I thank you, dear reader, for reading this article, this magazine, and for being a thoughtful leader. Thanks for sharing your thanks with the people in your life that you care about, using their names. You will fill them up with pride and appreciation. And that comes back manifold to you and your organization.♦

Stephen Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or

Stephen Garber
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