New Leader Tuesday-Know the Power of a Well-Placed “Thank You”

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New Leader Tuesday at Management Excellence

The New Leader’s Series here at Management Excellence, is dedicated to the proposition that one of the most valuable things we can do is support the development of the next generation of leaders on our teams and in our organizations.

I don’t hear the phrase “Thank You” used in the workplace nearly enough.

It’s two simple words wrapped in one heartfelt comment of appreciation that offers up a whole heaping helping of genuine respect. All of this from one of the first phrases that Mom ever taught us.

While those in roles of authority have a reasonable expectation that their requests will be carried out, there’s nothing I can find in the rulebook for leaders (perhaps we should we create this book!), that suggests liberal use of the phrase “thank you” is a problem.

The most creative and successful leaders I know dispense “Thank You’s” liberally and with gusto. They thank people for their hard work, their creativity and for their service and support. They thank them for pointing out problems and offering solutions and they thank them for providing feedback on how the leader can do his or her job better.

Sometimes the most powerful version of “thank you” is not the verbal kind. It’s the hand-written note acknowledging something good about the employee’s performance. Or perhaps it’s the note from one supervisor to yours offering praise for your involvement with the cross-functional topic.

In some cases, it’s a token of appreciation. From the gift card for a weekend get-away to the theater tickets or something that says “thanks” not only to the individual, but the individual’s significant other, a thoughtful and appropriate gesture (within company guidelines) is nice frosting on a heart-felt thank you.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Motivation is intrinsic, and most of us are inspired by knowing that our efforts are both noticed and appreciated. Saying “thank you” is one of the simplest forms of showing respect and one of the most powerful forms of letting your team members know that you are watching and that you genuinely care. Starting today, try it on for size a few times. It gets easier to say with practice!

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By |2016-10-22T17:11:25+00:00November 13th, 2012|Leadership|7 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. David Specht November 13, 2012 at 10:14 am - Reply

    This is something that I am still trying to master. I even had personal note cards printed so I could be more pro-active in sharing “thank yous” with my team. Sometimes we all get so busy moving on to the next project or deadline, that we fail to acknowledge the hard work of our team. I have not yet arrived, but I am trying to be better at this.

    • Art Petty November 13, 2012 at 11:04 am - Reply

      David, kudos to you for making the effort. Now for the execution part… ! Thanks for reading and sharing. Art

  2. G November 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    This is something people also need to teach their children. A lot of my friends kids expect everything but say thank you for nothing. Some always say thank you. I am more willing to go out of my way for them. I am mostly talking about older kids and especially teens. very young children should be taught, but not always expected to comply.

  3. Jonathan Drillings November 15, 2012 at 8:50 am - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. The simple act of acknowledgement and appreciation (and in its most simple form, saying “Thank You”) is so important to the dynamic of a relationship and the way that someone feels about their job. When someone works hard, does a good job, and goes unthanked and unacknowledged, it can be incredibly demoralizing. That simple “thank you” goes a long way to ensuring that employees really feel like team members.

    You might like some of my recent pots on the matter, including one on the Lenovo CEO’s summertime bonus distribution ( one on sharing your time with others ( and one on leaders as enablers ( Thanks for keeping the conversation going.

  4. Cendrine Marrouat November 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Bang on! Art, this is a great article!

    I keep repeating that gratitude will always go a long way.

    You can actually change someone completely if you acknowledge them, even with a smile.

  5. Kathleen Paris November 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Art, thank you for this important reminder! I have listed some specific ways to say thank you in my article
    “The Imperative to Say Thank You” at

    Thanks again. Your message is one that we can’t hear enough times.
    Kathleen Paris

    • Art Petty November 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      Kathleen, back at you with the thanks! Love your post. Appreciate your contribution to the cause! -Art

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