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Carol Kinsey GomanAfter my speech on Building Leadership Presence for a large business organization, an audience member raised her hand to comment: “I’m new to the company, but there is one change that I wish we’d make. I think we need a mentor program where we’d be paired with an experienced manager to have someone ‘show us the ropes.’ That would really shorten the time it takes new people to develop leadership presence.”

When I suggested that she find her own mentor, this woman was way ahead of me. “Oh, I already did that,” she replied. “I just think it would be a great program for all new employees.”

Her comments reminded me of research conducted by the American Management Association (AMA) several years ago. They did a survey with 6,000 participants across the United States. The survey asked only two questions: 1) Do you get enough recognition at work? 2) Would you do a better job if you got more recognition?

The response was overwhelming: 97 percent of the respondents said “no” they didn’t get enough recognition at work, and 98 percent replied “yes” they would do a better job if they received more recognition.

To the AMA, this pointed out inadequate management practices. Obviously, not enough managers were doing a good enough job at recognizing and rewarding the people who report to them.

While that is a valid point, I looked at the results in another way: It seemed that most of us were waiting – without much success – for someone else to acknowledge our efforts. Only then would we do a “better job.”

Talk about relinquishing control!

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On the other hand, some individuals, like the woman in my audience, refuse to give anyone else control over their performance – whether it’s the motivation to do a good job or help in developing leadership presence. These “self-starters” don’t wait to be empowered; they go right out and empower themselves.

Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, is an executive coach, consultant, and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. She is also the author of STAND OUT: How to Build Your Leadership Presence. For interview requests, click here.

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