Become Leader Of The Year

Remember how energized you were that time you received meaningful recognition? Perhaps it was something equivalent to the leader of the year award, in front of a big crowd. Hands were shaken and pictures taken. Or it might have been less formal, but deeply touched your heart. “Wow, they really get what I’ve contributed here.” Formal recognition feels fantastic (I know, informal is equally important, but that’s a different post.)

And then there’s the rest of the time. You do great work and no one seems to notice. Or, someone else gets the award, and you’re scratching your head. You suck it up, smile, and congratulate, but inside you’re hurt, maybe even a little bit mad. I’m not proud to say, I’ve been there, felt that.


Tonight I’m hosting a big recognition dinner, complete with microphones, music, plaques and hoopla. A few well deserving leaders will feel fantastic. My team and I have debated the nominations, crunched numbers, discussed behaviors. We feel great about our choices. And yet, before I announce winners, I know I’ll get a familiar sick feeling, worried about the rest of the deserving leaders who will leave empty-handed.

Recognition has a sharp double edge.

Become Your Leader of the Year

Sure external validation feels great. But, real leadership energy comes from leading authentically toward your meaningful vision. Real leaders know when they are leading well. They don’t need someone else to tell them they’re leader of the year.

What do you long to be recognized for?

Take a few minutes this week and design the award you would want most to receive.

  • Name it.
  • Define the criteria.
  • Identify the specific outcomes you most long to celebrate.
  • Define the leadership behaviors you would want to model

Articulate what matters most. Perhaps it’s creating lasting change, or progress toward a meaningful cause. Maybe it’s developing others to unprecedented success. Get specific. Write up the talk track you would hear as you walked up to receive the award.

How are you doing?

Be honest. Would YOU nominate YOU for that award today? What must change? Where can you improve?

Don’t wait for external validation. Envision your leadership at its very best. Now, lead toward that. Become your best leader of the year. Make this your best leadership year ever.

Real leadershipThis week we are talking about the many angles of leadership “energy,” the second branch in the REAL model. Tomorrow,will take a deeper look at leadership energy. If you’ve not yet joined the LGL community, enter your email address to subscribe and never miss a post.

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Employee Engagement & Energy and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Back in college I read every article, book, chapter, written by Carl Rogers. I sucked up his material about interpersonal communication, therapy, healing, and becoming a person. One of his notions is that positive recognition is the same in many ways as negative recognition. If I say “Oh, your shoes look marvelous!” that is a judgement. Some judgments are appropriate – “Get a haircut before the interview,” or “You’re not looking well today.” But in general, a judgement, even a positive one, frames somebody and that has the potential to limit your ability to know them and their ability to have freedom in your presence. Saying, “Your shoes look marvelous!” means several things: (1) I judge shoes, (2) I cared about your shoes (or clothing) yesterday but didn’t say anything, (3) I am not complimenting Judy or Nancy or Dan’s shoes — which is a non-verbal judgement – if they are in the same room or hear about the compliment, (4) I have an authority to pronounce what marvelous shoes are, and (5) when your shoes start to look out of shape and you know it, then it is likely you will feel self-conscious about your shoes. For this reason, I never ever (add a few Winston Churchill’s) comment about a person’s clothing or body. This is just my opinion, but those are two areas in which compliments are certain to mess up someone’s head. Am I way off topic?

    Really – best with the award’s night. I like putting on the big show. Metrics are a good way to go. And try to make sure everyone goes home with something, even if it is a smile, eye contact, and a handshake.

    • Wow, David, really thought provoking insights. Always value your additions… yeah, it’s tough. I get nervous ONLY going by metrics. I’ve seen the wrong folks recognized for short-term gains too many times. Love your last thought…. everyone leaves with something… off to work on that. Namaste.

  2. For me, it mostly involves not being a jerk, treating people like they are humans, caring about them, and asking about them. If I get those right, everything else seems to come naturally.

    • Matt, not being a jerk is always a good start. So, that begs the question… why ARE there so many jerks….? Hmmm… I guess that’s another post. Perhaps we should collaborate 😉

  3. I’m so excited for those that will be recognized, however I know that even those leaving empty handed know the value of the contributions that they make in your workgroup. I believe that this ceremony will be motivation for those who will leave empty handed–so do not worry!!!

  4. I humbly admit I am much better at recognizing others than I am about celebrating myself.

    Your post of self reflection sure puts me in my discomfort zone.
    I gather I have much to work on, go back Lolly and listen to your heart.


  5. Last night the recognition ceremony went beautifully. What was perfect is that as I looked at the crowd, there was genuine appreciation and delight in those being recognized. Wonderful positive empathy. What a wonderful, amazing team of REAL, growing leaders.

  6. Very true post and I can definitely relate to the feeling as well. The self assessment part stands out most to me. Many think that doing your job very well should result in recognition, but why? Your’re supposed to do your job well!! It’s the over and beyond; that going the extra step beyond your job title and doing more than your daily duties that lead to recognition. Often, stepping outside of your comfort zone. I took that away from the ceremony and will try my best to implement that philosophy consistently. I will see the results a d recognition I desire then.

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