And the Oscar goes to…
1939 Hattie McDaniel for Gone With the Wind: Best Supporting Actress
1963 Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field: Best Actor
1982 Louis Gossett, Jr. for An Officer and a Gentlemen: Best Supporting Actor
1989 Denzel Washington for Glory: Best Supporting Actor
1990 Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost: Best Supporting Actress
1996 Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry Maguire: Best Supporting Actor
2001 Denzel Washington for Training Day: Best Actor
2001 Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball: Best Actress
2004 Jamie Foxx for Ray: Best Actor
2004 Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby: Best Supporting Actor
2006 Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland: Best Actor
2006 Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls: Best Supporting Actress
2009 Mo’Nique for Precious: Best Supporting Actress
2012 Octavia Spencer for The Help: Best Supporting Actress
These are the 12 African American actors and actresses who have won an Oscar, out of the 340 actors who have won over the last 85 years. Only one African American woman has won Best Actress and only one woman has ever won an Oscar for Best Director (See Lee & Lows infographic on the Diversity Gap in the Oscars). In spite of the vast number of women and people of color who have contributed significantly to the film industry, the Academy has failed to recognize those contributions in a significant way.
And while these statistics probably haven’t prevented women and people of color from contributing, it certainly has created resentment and animosity.
But wait, before you start making assumptions, this isn’t a diversity piece (although it very well could be)!
This is about appreciation. More specifically about the impact on people when we fail to recognize their contributions and what you can do about it.
Understand that when we do not recognize or show appreciation for the work of others in a significant way, people feel left out and pushed to the side, or excluded and marginalized. And people feel this way, not because of the color of their skin or their gender or age, but because, too often, those who are in the position to say, “I see you” and “Thank you”, don’t.
You can not effectively lead a team if any member, even just one, feels excluded and marginalized.
Leaders, it is critical to your effectiveness that you recognize all of the contributors on your team and in your organization by showing your appreciation. And you want to do it frequently and consistently.
Enough can’t be said for the power of appreciation. Seriously, the Oscars is still watched by millions of people from around the world when I can think of a million reasons why this event is overrated and outdated. And despite that fact, it continues to draw ratings year after year.
I believe this is because people are waiting and watching for, the moments we remember, the speeches. There is something magical that happens when the winner hits the stage filled with the thrill of appreciation, recognition, and validation and thanks all of the people who helped them reach this pinnacle moment in their career.
One of the more infamous Oscar speeches was given by actress Sally Field when she won her second Oscar in 1984. Now while she didn’t exactly say “You like me, you really like me”, that was the message that people took away from her speech because, truth be told, we all want to be liked. We want those around us to tell us they like what we are doing and we are doing a good job.
Showing appreciation is validation of our value, importance, and relevance.
Even two-time Oscar winner Sally Field sought to receive confirmation that people liked her and her work.
But there is more to learn from what Sally Field actually said. She said,
The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me! Thank you.
What Sally taught us is that you just can’t say thank you enough. Trust me, if you have people who are working hard for you, there is no limit to the amount of appreciation you can show.
Over the years I’ve imagined who I might thank if I had my own Oscar moment (you know you have too). But honestly, you may never have an Oscar moment, nor should you expect your team to wait for some mythical moment in the future for you to say thank you and show your appreciation.Do it today, do it everyday!
If you are leading a team or organization, here are some appreciation musts:
Say Thank You
Say it regularly, even for the small stuff.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due.
I’ve heard people say, and by people I mean ineffective leaders, “Why should I thank people for doing their job.” Well quite frankly because they could be doing their job somewhere else and have chose to do it with you. And it makes a difference in the way they feel about you and their job. So whether it’s an individual or group effort, it is essential that people are given credit for their creativity, innovation, and hard work.
Break with Tradition
Historically, recognition in the workplace has been shown through some sort of financial reward, either in the form of a bonus or promotion. But showing appreciation doesn’t have to cost you money!
Be creative and be outrageous; give out gold stars (adults actually still like to receive gold stars), make a video, create a social media campaign, poster, or meme. Just use your imagination, a good example is Zappos who hosts a weekly parade to celebrate 3 randomly selected employees.
There is Something to Say for Tradition
Okay so people still like to get bonuses and be promoted. But if you have a small operation, both financially and structurally, then be innovative with your bonuses and promotions.
A bonus could be paid leave, a dinner out, a spa day, or a weekend getaway. Promotions don’t have to be a level up, you can provide a promotion by challenging them professionally, increase leadership responsibilities, support a pet project, provide professional development through training, challenge them to mentor others.
There is nothing worse than a disingenuous thank you! There is a part of you that has to truly get the value of appreciation, whether its driven by your bottom line or your desire to empower others, it has to be authentic.
Disingenuous efforts will fail, and even backfire.
In Glassdoor’s Employee Appreciation Survey they found that more than half (53%) of employees admit they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss and four in five (81%) employees said they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.
Make appreciation, acknowledgement, and recognition a part of your daily practice in your leadership.
Can you afford not to?
Here are more resources to help you be the leader you want to be: