What do we need in order to excel? What is one of the most effective ways of building rapport and developing strong alliances?

I dare to say that the fuel for us human beings is affirmation. We have this deep seated need to be noticed. It is part of our nature. We want a sense of belonging. We want who we are to fit into the contexts and with the people who are important to us.

So, who are you as a leader? One of your functions is to make sure that the people you lead feel affirmed. But do we make that a priority? The demands on us as leaders are heavy many times. Our schedules are jammed and we try to balance our own lives the best way we can.

When I lived in Los Angeles I was the Director of a large organization working with people affected by AIDS. This was during the peak of the AIDS crisis and the needs were extreme. Parallel to this, I had two sons at home. Anyone who has been a parent knows what it’s like to balance work and family. On top of that, the organization I worked for struggled financially, so I had to get a second job working the graveyard at Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s psychiatric unit. At the same time, I had to finish my thesis for my second Master’s degree. All this to say, I know what it’s like to be busy and pulled in many different directions.

This is when I met a fantastic man. He was one of the big wigs at Disney’s Animation Studio in Burbank. He knew my situation and he gave me these words of wisdom.

“Be generous with random words and actions of kindness to those you lead!”

In other words: make it a priority to affirm those around you even if you feel that there are tons of demands on your own shoulders.

This my friends was the best advice I could get. I started to be very intentional in doing and saying things to lift and affirm others.

Oh my word! The pay back I got from this. Instead of falling into the trap of self-pity and focusing on my own feelings of being overwhelmed. I actively sought-after opportunities to say and show random words of kindness to my volunteers and employees.

People who are being affirmed and noticed will produce. That is something I can testify to in every context that I have been in.

It is not a very difficult thing to understand or do, but when we are in the middle of feeling busy and overwhelmed, we forget to do this very thing.

When was the last time you made it a point to show random acts of kindness to those you lead?

My mentor often reminds me of this and it works every time.

Have a brilliant day!

Ulf Lidman

Random acts of kindness.