A while ago, I found the following written on the pad of paper in my San Francisco hotel room.

“Dear Guest, Thank you for leaving a tip for me.”

This was the first time I received a thank you after leaving a tip for the hotel maid. I felt like I do when someone sends me a thank you note, a small gesture with big dividends.

I still remember the new patient who came to my office for the first time years ago. During our conversation, she asked how I was doing. I wasn’t sure how to answer her unexpected question. No patient had ever asked me that.

“Fine, uh, I’m doing fine. How are you doing?”

That question, without precedence or expectation, created an invisible thread between us, crossing the chasm between doctor and patient.

The patient’s symptoms didn’t lead to a definitive diagnosis. I called her that evening to ask how she was doing. I did this every evening until symptoms subsided and she returned to her usual well-being.


Appreciation as a leadership skill

Dr. Allen (pseudonym), one of my executive coaching clients, was assigned to work with Joan, a secretary who was transferred to his office because another physician considered her incompetent and wanted her moved.

“She was dumped on me.”

“What does that mean for you?”

“I’m stuck with her.”

“What else?”
“Hmm. . . I guess this could be an opportunity.”

“Tell me more.”

“Maybe she wasn’t in an office where she could do her best. Maybe she wasn’t given clear direction. Maybe she wasn’t valued.”

Sometimes we think thanking people just for doing their job isn’t necessary. After all, it’s their job.

The hotel maid’s note helped me reflect on what an extra few dollars meant to her and encouraged me to keep tipping. My patient’s concern for me led me to go out of my way to call her and see how she was doing. Joan is now a high functioning member of my client’s office, asking for clarification and taking initiative in helping callers, rather than ask for Dr. Allan’s permission for every task. My client’s productivity has increased because she has an engaged and more productive assistant.


Appreciation engages employees

A Towers Watson study found that 88% of fully engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their organization’s products and services; 38% of disengaged employees feel the same way. Appreciation engages employees.

Write down the names of three people you work with. Next to each person’s name, write down one way to appreciate that person. In the third column write the date when you will complete these actions.

Try this for three weeks and share your observations.

Margaret Cary, MD, MBA, MPH
Maggi is a family doctor and leadership coach who engages her audiences in highly interactive presentations. Maggi is a doctor’s doctor with a physician’s mind and a friend’s heart. As an executive coach, she blends a scientist’s thinking with empathy. She is a constant learner and serial focuser with a lifelong passion for sharing what she’s learned. She is an inspirational motivator, occasional humorist, and excellent listener and storyteller. She translates the latest research in leadership development into her coaching process and into entertaining and highly interactive presentations. She is an author, trainer, facilitator, and teacher (Georgetown University School of Medicine). Her authenticity and ability to communicate and connect emotionally with her audience through storytelling—combined with just enough humor—result in rave reviews and standing ovations. She embodies a warm, sincere approach in sharing lessons learned as she guides you in creating your own Leadership Expedition. Email Dr. Cary at drcary@thecarygroupglobal.com to learn more.


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