The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. –William James


Most people have one defining need that very rarely gets satisfied.  Many of us will move Heaven and Earth to satisfy this need.  This one attribute is the single most motivating factor that leads to success.  It is the need, the want, to feel important.  The person who can satisfy this need in others, the person who can sincerely make other people feel important, can be very influential and is typically regarded by others as a good leader. In fact, you can tell a lot about an individual by what makes him feel important.  My dad builds houses, and one of the most satisfying things to him is to complete a building and have others admire his work.  Al Capone got his feeling of being important from power and control.  Mother Teresa got her feeling of importance by helping the helpless.  There are usually two reasons why people do things.  The reason we tell others… and the real reason.  When we give money to charity, do we really do it to help others or do we do it because of the satisfaction we get from helping others.  We feel important because we feel like we made a difference in someone else’s life.

We you look around your office, you will see people from all walks of life who crave this feeling of importance.  If any one of those people all of the sudden stopped doing their job, it would cause a lot of challenges for your company.  Every single job that they do is important to the success of the company – to your success, because without them you couldn’t do your job effectively.

When was the last time that you told them how important they were to you?

One of my class members about ten years ago decided to use this principle with his sales assistant.  She was the assistant for five different salespeople, and her job was to put together marketing materials and, ultimately, their contracts when they sold a big deal.  During the class, this salesman decided that the work that this woman did for him was critical to him closing deals, so on his way into the office, he bought her a big container of popcorn and just put a sticky note on it saying how important she was to him and to his success.

When he gave it to her, she was shocked and surprised, but awfully grateful as well since he was the first person in years to treat her like an equal in the office.  When he came back to class the next week, he told us that she had taken the sticky note off the can and stuck it under the plastic protector that covered her desk so that she could see it every day.

I saw this man a couple of years later and asked him about the sales assistant.  He told me that she is still there and still doing a fabulous job.  He said, though, that she now has over a dozen of the sticky notes on her desk.  She keeps every one.

Great leaders use this aspect of human nature to make people feel important.  One way to be a great leader is to find some way every day to make the people around you feel important.


Team Building Principle #15: Acknowledge the Importance of Other People