3 Steps to Bring Out the Best In Your People

by  David Dye  |  Leadership Development
3 Steps to Bring Out the Best In Your People

What Had I Done?

“David, I can’t believe what you did!”

Uh oh. At first I thought I’d screwed up…but Kathy was beaming. A great smile lit up her face.

“I loved what you said. People always give me a hard time about my highlighting and notes. They tell me I’m ‘anal’…but you appreciated it. You said it was a good thing – that I was intentional.”

Kathy is an engineer. She had just lost her job due to economic conditions in the industry where she works.

She’s also the very first person to have purchased a copy of our new book: Winning Well – A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul.

At our book birthday party, she greeted my co-author Karin Hurt, and me with her book all ready to be signed. And that’s when I saw it –

The rainbow. The inside page was marked with different colors, each coded to a particular concept or type of content. Kathy is an intentional reader – she takes careful notes and internalizes what she reads. When she showed us the highlighted key, she was almost embarrassed.

But I was thrilled.

Our first reader – and wow was she ever reading!

In fact, I was the one that was encouraged. After two years spent writing and working intensively with Karin to help leaders and managers in a way no one had done yet, here was someone using it – what could be better?

I took a picture of her colorful reading key and shared it on Facebook with the following comment:

“This is one of my favorite photographs of ‪Winning Well. Kathy shared her intentional reading system and some of her favorite quotes with Karin and me. I love it because we wrote the book to be read and used – not sit on a shelf as a trophy or souvenir. Life only changes when you take action!”

When I saw her the following week, she told me how much she appreciated the way I’d taken something that other people mocked and acknowledged the strength in it. She’d been feeling down after the layoff and that brief encouragement had helped.

The Fastest Way to Energize Your Team

Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound in the world is the sound of your own name. I’ll take the liberty of saying that the second best is the affirmation of your own strengths.

Think back to the last time someone saw the best part of you, called out your value, and told you how and why you are important. It felt awesome, right? You might have felt ten feet tall, energized, ready to take on the world!

You can make your people feel the same way. It just takes two steps:

  1. See Them.  Look for their strengths. How do they contribute those strengths to the team? Why do they make a difference with their strengths?
  2. Tell Them. Don’t make the mistake of assuming people know that you appreciate them. If all they hear from you are performance goals and improvement plans, they may start to think you’re trying to get rid of them. Okay, let’s add a third step just to be sure:
  3. Do It Again.

Not every day…maybe not even every week. But seeing people and appreciating them never gets old and can be a regular part of your leadership tool kit.

Your Turn

Think about your team and your colleagues. What is one strength each of them brings to work? (Hint: it might not be in their immediate job description.) Why does this strength matter – how does it contribute to the team? To your results? To your relationships?

When was the last time you told them? If it’s been more than a few weeks, do it today!

Bonus: If you see the strength, but aren’t sure how it contributes, ask: “How might I help them work from their strength and contribute value?”

Be the leader you want your boss to be and start Winning Well today!

When has an affirmation made a difference for you at work?
Photo Credit: Image supplied by the author.

About The Author

Articles By david-dye
I work with leaders who want to build teams that care and get more done with fewer headaches.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Will Lukang  |  19 Apr 2016  |  Reply

Excellent point David! Affirmation of someone strength is the best gift. It recognize someone’s capability and let them know you care enough to highlight it. What make people happy about their job is not always money. Recognition, appreciation and affirmation are high up on the value chain. I hope by your kindness Kathy find her way back to her journey.

Thank you for your good post this week.


Will Lukang

David Dye  |  19 Apr 2016  |  Reply

Being seen is always a gift – and not hard to give!

Thanks Will!


Kenneth Baucum  |  20 Apr 2016  |  Reply

Excellent thoughts! I definitely agree that I get a direct and measurable energy boost when someone thoughtfully recognizes my efforts. The same happens again when I recognize others for their efforts. It’s funny how it works on a two-way street.

Thanks for the reminder!

David Dye  |  20 Apr 2016  |  Reply

Thanks Kenneth – I love your observation that its a two-way street. That was certainly the case in my experience with Kathy. We’re all human and we all need encouragement!


John E. Smith  |  24 Apr 2016  |  Reply

Hi, David – another excellent post.

I love the Kathy’s Rainbow story … sounds like something I would do:)

Two things I picked up from reading this post:

1) Books are meant to be used! Personally I use highlighters, different colors of pens, and “marginalia” to help me digest and remember the content of a book in which I find value. Actually, the amount of scribbling, doodling, and added color make for a handy and very visual rating scale.

2) As leaders and managers, we may need to get out of our own shells in order to see the strengths in another’s behavior. I know I am guilty sometimes of observing something I do not understand or agree with, thus dismissing it out of turn. Your post reminds me that the ability to see through another’s eyes includes the ability to appreciate whey they do something, and not just that they do it.


David Dye  |  24 Apr 2016  |  Reply


I would guess that we all identify with what you describe in your second point. It can take that moment to pause and reflect.

(And I would love to see a John Smith Rainbowed version of Winning Well ;)

Take care,


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