Recently I donated blood at my local donation centre and observed some great leadership in action. On a side note approximately 1 in 30 people donate blood, yet 1 in 3 people will need a blood donation in their lifetime. Every week Australia requires over 27,000 blood donations. It’s relatively painless and also supports your own health through the increased production of fresh blood cells. So if you are able to donate blood, please do so.

During my last donation, there was a positive energy in the room as the collectors were acquiring the life-giving crimson liquid from about 10 donors. They were checking on people, making sure they were comfortable, happy and feeling fine. People were busy but not rushed, and there was playful chit-chat between staff and donors.

The donation centre was open late on this particular night; it was getting to the time when the manager heads off home at the end of his day and this is when I noticed some great leadership skills. The manager could have easily walked straight out after logging off his PC and leaving his office, like many time-pressed managers do. He also could have sung out goodbye to everybody as he walked out and drove home to his family. I know times when I’ve been leading a team and left in hurry to get home or to go for a ride on my bike.

However what he chose to do was something different, which took only a little extra time yet was one of the most powerful things he did that day.

Before leaving he went to each and every staff member, used their first name, spoke to them, checked they were ok and thanked them for their efforts and being part of the team. He spoke to them with warmth and an authenticity that you could tell was genuine. Each conversation was only about a minute, yet was very powerful. This was such a strong symbol of valuing his employees, acknowledging their contribution and leaving them feeling positive after a busy day where they needed to be focused from a safety and quality point of view.

Sometimes as leaders, you can get busy in your own world and forget the value of a few words, a thank you, an acknowledgement, and how motivating this can be for your team. This active care will greatly support the development of a high performance team, discretionary effort and a strong team culture. The importance of visible leadership and the powerful ripple effect cannot be underestimated. As the old saying goes, “What my leader finds interesting, I find fascinating.” So next time you need to leave and some of your team are still working, consider what message you want to leave them with, how the power of a thank you and a few words can make a huge difference.

image courtesy of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service

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