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The Highest Compliment a Leader Can Receive
Like everyone else, leaders like to be complimented for the good results they produce and the manner in which they get there, both individually and through their team. Giving leaders praise for achieving extraordinary outcomes feels like a crowning achievement to most. When good results become a consistent record, leaders bask in the praise that reflects their hard work, as they should.
However, there is an even higher honor.
Leaders who understand their distinct role in developing others find even deeper satisfaction when those they have nurtured and coached go on to do great things. This is especially true when protégés go on to an even more successful career or more noteworthy accolades than the leader.
Perhaps nothing represents the badge of great leadership than to be proud of those who follow for the extraordinary achievements they have created.
But let’s go up one more rung.
Pound-for-pound, one other compliment takes the cake for making leaders beam with pride. More than results, track record, or team members’ achievements, this compliment stands out for what it says about the act of leadership, not for the outcomes leaders produce.
Ask the most admired leaders for the highest compliment they can receive and many will tell you it is an observation offered by those who witness their leadership work. When a colleague, peer, client, or casual acquaintance offers this compliment, leaders know they have arrived: “You clearly love to lead.”
When we see or experience the influence of a leader who relishes their calling, it is hard not to offer comments like these:
“It is so obvious you love to lead your team.”
“Watching you as a parent is inspiring because it is obviously your calling.”
“I have never seen anyone who revels in being a spouse and partner like you do.”
Leadership is hard. Too often we forget to share how much passion we have for the privilege of leading others. If you, too, share that passion for leadership, be sure to let others know both in your expression and your enthusiasm.
You might one day be granted the highest compliment a leader can receive: “You show that leading others is something you were meant to do.” Now that’s a crown of a compliment worth wearing every day.