Improve Your Appreciation by Accelerating Personal Connection

As the leader of a team of three – or three hundred – do you think your team feels appreciated by their coworkers – and you?

Studies have shown that while we expect to get paid for the work we do, and we would all like to make more money, the number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.

There is something deep within the human spirit that longs for appreciation. Without a sense of being valued by supervisors and coworkers, it can be easy to feel like you are a part of a machine or just a number.

While communicating appreciation to employees and colleagues may sound easy, there is more to it than just saying “thank you.”

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort–even their own survival–for the good of those in their care.
Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.


According to author Simon Sinek, when we feel like we belong to a group and trust the people with whom we work, we naturally cooperate to face outside challenges and threats.

But when we do not have a sense of belonging, we are forced to invest time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and in so doing, we inadvertently make ourselves more vulnerable to the outside threats and challenges.

Plus, with our attention facing inward, we will also miss outside opportunities. When we feel safe among the people with whom we work, the more likely we are to survive and thrive.

As leaders, how do we learn to know and trust our team?

Perhaps the most truly valuable thing we can do if we are to truly serve our constituents is to know them personally.

It may be impossible to know all your team in a large organization, but to know the name and details of the life of someone we are trying to help makes a huge difference.

Rule 1. Keep it real – bring people together

The added complications of the virtual world often mean we use the Internet as a means to expedite and simplify communication and the relationships we build. The ability to maintain distance, even complete anonymity, has made it easier to stop acting as humans should – with humanity.

Real, live human interaction is how we feel a part of something, develop trust, and have the capacity to feel for others.

Trust is not formed through a screen – it is formed across a table. There is no such thing as virtual trust.

Rule 2. Keep it manageable – obey Dunbar’s number

Oxford professor and anthropologist Robin Dunbar arrived at the conclusion that people simply maintain more than about 150 close relationships. That magical number is the number of close relationships we are naturally designed to manage. Any more than that starts to cause a break down if rigid social systems, or effective hierarchy and bureaucracy, are not implemented to help manage the scale.

When a leader is able to personally know everyone in the group, the responsibility for their care becomes personal. The leader starts to see those for whom they are responsible as if they were their own family, and likewise, those in the group start to express ownership of their leader.

Rule 3. Meet the people you help

As social animals, it is imperative for us to see the actual, tangible impact of our time and effort for our work to have meaning and for us to be motivated to do it even better. When we are able to physically see the positive impact of the decisions we make or the work we do, not only do we feel that our work was worth it, but it also inspires us to work harder and do more.

In other words, bosses telling us how important the work is, is nowhere near as powerful as us getting to see it ourselves.

Rule 4. Give them time, not just money

Money is an abstraction of tangible resources or human effort. Unlike the time and effort that people spend on something, it is what money represents that gives it its value. Someone who gives us a lot of money, as our brains would interpret their behavior, is not necessarily as valuable to our protection as someone willing to commit their time and energy to us.

What produces loyalty, that irrational willingness to commit to the organization even when offered more money elsewhere, is the feeling that the leaders of the company would be willing, when it matters, to sacrifice their time and energy to help us.

Rule 5. Be patient – the rule of seven days and seven years

Our world is one of impatience. A world of instant gratification. A world ruled by dopamine. Google can give us the answers we want now. We can buy online and get what we want now. We can send and receive information instantaneously. We have gotten used to getting what we want when we want it.

It takes time to get to know someone and build the trust required to sustain a relationship, personal or professional. There’s no hard data on exactly how long it takes to feel like we trust someone. I know it takes more than seven days and fewer than seven years. It is quicker for some and slower for others. No one knows exactly how long it takes, but it takes patience.

Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t


Set aside a two-hour time block in your schedule. On each of five chart tablets, write one of the rules above at the top.

Spend twenty minutes on each value, writing a phrase or action that you can use to demonstrate this rule to your team. If needed, place an asterisk by actions that will need more time to develop.

After the five, twenty-minute sessions, use the final twenty minutes to go over the chart tablets and select the one, single most action for that rule that you can implement immediately – and make a pact with yourself to do so.

After one month of implementing this action, call your immediate team together to ask them if they have noticed any difference in your leadership style. If needed, prompt them with a brief comment about “appreciation.”

After a time of discussion with your team, encourage them to go through the same exercise personally, in order to implement the rules with their teams.

After three months, gather your team for a thirty-minute discussion on the “appreciation temperature” of your organization. Celebrate the successes, and challenge your team (and yourself) to keep the process moving forward.

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<


Good Leaders Unlock the Imagination by Starting with WHY

To help see others see change, the leader must understand how to unlock the imagination.

The very act of imagination is connected to faith. The author of Hebrews writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). When a leader articulates, or provokes, a follower’s imagination, he or she is serving both God and the individual by exercising the muscle of faith.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.


Walt Disney’s dream that we now know as Disneyland faced an immense problem: how do you get financial investors to back something that’s never been done before, and exists only in a few sketches?

Faced with this dilemma, Disney did what he was best at: he painted pictures with words:

The idea of Disneyland is a simple one. It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge. It will be a place for parents and children to spend pleasant times in one another’s company.

Disneyland will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and hard facts that have created America. And it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world. 

Disneyland will be filled with the accomplishments, the joys and hopes of the world we live in. And it will remind us and show us how to make those wonders part of our lives.

Walt Disney, An American Original, 246-247

Disney’s simple but evocative language convinced the investors of a future they could not see – and the rest is history.

Great leaders and great organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for.

Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.

Products and services with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. Remember, people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. If an organization does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the organization does. And when that happens, manipulations that rely on pushing price, features, service or quality become the primary currency of differentiation.

WHAT: Every single organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system. WHATS are easy to identify.

HOW: Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision. It would be false to assume that’s all that is required. There is one missing detail:

WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your organization exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

It all starts from the inside out. It all starts with WHY.

Simon Sinek, Start with Why


There is a fine line between inspiration and manipulation. A leader can use powerful language, vivid images, and emotional pleas to his audience – and be a manipulative, power-hungry despot.

A leader can also use powerful language, vivid images, and emotional pleas to his audience – and be a visionary leader.

The difference is in the WHY. If people don’t believe in the WHY behind your vision, they won’t be motivated to help you deliver it.

To understand the WHY behind all sides of a situation, idea, or problem you are facing, take the WHY Train by answering the following questions:

  1. Who is the main actor in the situation or problem?
  2. What is the main concept, object, or action the main actor uses or performs?
  3. Where is the main actor located when performing or using the main concept, object, or action?
  4. When does the situation or problem occur?
  5. Describe each answer in more depth.
  6. Conclude by asking WHY to the answers you have given.

The result of this exercise will be a thorough and sequential description about a situation and the insightful reasoning behind each element.

As leaders, we communicate in all we say and do. We may be entertaining at times, we inform much of the time, and occasionally we must be directing in what we say. But in all situations, we can inspire and connect with our audience.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 29-1, published December 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.