Casting light or casting shadows

I’d like to encourage you to take a minute to consider how you deal with “light”.

In our business world, life giving light can come from a variety of sources. Fellow employees may voice their thanks or approval. Customers we serve might acknowledge the benefit they’ve received. Partners we work alongside might show their appreciation for assistance. And with the advent of social networks, these light giving moments can arrive as “likes”, “downloads” and reuse of thoughts or ideas.

How do you deal with this light? And how do you impact the light others receive?

When you see someone’s work is being acknowledged, do you amplify it by adding your own approval and making sure your network is aware? When someone’s efforts have assisted you, do you make sure they know that you are aware of their efforts and thank them publicly? If so, you are casting light.

People who cast light are those that make sure their own accomplishments and recognition doesn’t get in the way of those around them. It’s not wrong for you to strive to work in such a way as to attract light. That is what is expected of you as a valued contributor and leader. So when you are put in the light…great! You deserve to be there. But just as hard as you work to be in the light, you should strive to make sure others are getting the light they deserve.

I’ve been and continue to be blessed by being around very smart and creative people. A day doesn’t go by that I’m not reminded that there are plenty of people around me that have knowledge I can benefit from learning or skills that can enhance our combined efforts. They comprehend numbers better. They have better contacts. They are more organized than me (not hard). They are better communicators. These people have gifts and aptitudes that surpass what I can do alone.

Recent studies have shown how much individuals value “being appreciated”. At IBM we have an annual award that is given to those who make significant contributions. In the past, I suppose the recipients were notified via email and maybe their manager would let their peers know about the recognition. Our new CEO, Ginni Rometty practiced a light casting approach. Using our internal social network, she posted a personal message on each recipient’s profile board…where everyone could see. I’m sure if you asked the individuals involved, they would tell you how much that meant. Light has a warming effect.

IBM also practices casting light through a program called “Blue Thanks”. With a single click, we can call out someone for their contribution. The “thanks” is automatically sent to the recipient and their manager. More importantly, programs like this help remind us to cast light. Light can spread.

I’m not a fan of undeserved praise, so I’m not suggesting that you just go around “spreading sunshine”. But I’ll wager that if you took a minute, you could think of a handful of people who probably could use a little light shed on their work and contributions. Find a way to do that. Be creative. Surprise someone.

And if you are someone who is always in the light…check out your shadow. There are no doubt a number of people who have helped you get into the light you are enjoying. Share the light with them. Show sincere appreciation for their work. Put them in front of you when you can. And you’ll both benefit from the experience.

And if you’re someone who doesn’t care about those in your shadow, you probably aren’t reading this anyway.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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