More Than Management: Recognizing Leaders Among Us

More Than Management: Recognizing Leaders Among Us

Aug 30th 2022

"Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."

—Sam Walton

From an early age we seek leadership from those around us who we trust, admire, and believe to have the experience and know-how that will help us get to where we want to be. We look to leaders for guidance and find solace in their words when times get tough. Leaders also help us work together better. From small groups to whole societies, leaders serve to keep us unified and energized around a common purpose. They shape ideas into plans, direct and leverage individual talents, and keep us organized, focused, and moving forward. We operate within structures of leadership every day, from business to civil and social causes, classrooms to community groups, sports teams to stage productions, and beyond.

Strong leadership is a critical asset to any organization. Leaders can unite or divide, help to resolve or contribute to conflicts, boost or lower morale. In business, the approach to leadership can have a tremendous impact on employee satisfaction, affect job performance and productivity, shape the quality of a company's products and services, and ultimately impact the bottom line.

Not All Leaders Lead From the Front

It's common to conflate leadership with titles or positions of authority, and while there are certainly cases in which that notion proves true, the broader reality is, often, being a leader has nothing to do with one's title or rank. Leadership is about much more than delivering instructions and overseeing progress from above. It's possible to be a good manager, but a poor leader. Conversely, there are plenty of excellent leaders who put their skills to work every day, regardless of where they fall in the official chain of command. Great leaders are defined not by their titles, but by their actions, earning leadership status through their ability to affect results. Anyone can be – or become – a leader.

So, what does it mean to be a "leader?" There are several types and styles of leadership. The common thread is that leaders are change makers; they promote progress through influence or action – or both. Some leaders focus on getting down to business – paving the way and setting the pace. They create opportunities, develop strategies, take calculated risks, and turn problems into solutions. Some lead by example – pushing themselves and thereby those around them to work hard and achieve goals. Others lead with the mindset that in order to best meet the needs of the organization, they must also serve the needs of the people who make that organization what it is. They coach and mentor, encourage and motivate. They shine by helping others to shine.

Leadership is not an innate quality; it is a learned set of skills, nurtured and developed over time. Leaders are born from opportunities that foster self-awareness and empower self-confidence. They are mentored to build upon their strengths and work to their potential. They gain belief in themselves through those who believe in them… and as leaders grow, they draw upon their talents and wisdom to inspire and guide others.

An Investment in Leadership is an Investment Your Organization

Great leadership is a vital resource for any business. Leaders create conditions that set teams up for success; when organizations create conditions that develop leaders, that key resource can begin to pay valuable dividends.

Companies that embrace a positive leadership culture are more likely to be viewed as innovative, trustworthy, caring, and maintain a better brand image overall. They are better at attracting and retaining talent, tend to operate more efficiently, more profitably, and are better positioned for long-term success.

Building an organization of leaders involves cultivating leadership skills at all levels. There are many ways for employers to support leadership development including providing mentorship, skill-building courses, and comprehensive leadership training programs. Some organizations also empower team members to take initiative and be more involved in decision making through a participatory style of management.

Another way to encourage leadership behavior is to formally recognize and applaud acts of leadership and related achievements with leadership awards.

Honoring accomplishments with awards is a relatively easy, but impactful way to show appreciation for hard work and deliver assurance that the recipient is on the right track. Awards are also a tangible and lasting reminder of success that can provide an extra spark of motivation for the recipient – and their peers – to keep working toward their goals.

Key to Successful Leadership Quote

Organizations of any type and size can incorporate awards into their culture. Employee recognition awards can be created for any purpose, any budget, and in any quantity. Awards are available in a wide range of materials, styles, colors, and sizes, and can be fully customized with your branding and any messaging you choose. Because awards are created to your specifications, the nature of each award you present is also up to you, from the categories and achievements you wish to recognize, to the naming of your awards and the manner in which you present them.

In addition to traditional managerial and executive leadership awards, here are a few ideas to consider for recognizing emerging leaders at any level of an organization:

  • Completion of or advancement within a training program
  • Demonstrating professional growth
  • Job promotion or advancement
  • Taking initiative, going the extra mile, making an impact
  • Working extra hours, taking on additional responsibilities
  • Goal setting and achievement – top sales, production
  • Exceeding deadlines, coming in under budget
  • Achievements in research and discovery
  • Leading a team to a successful result or special achievement (consider presenting with individual awards for each participating team member or a plaque award that honors the whole group)
  • Helping others – providing training, serving as a mentor, assisting others with workloads
  • Special contributions – sharing suggestions, proposing ideas or plans, or taking actions that lead to growth, process improvement, improved organizational efficiency, cost savings, or profitability
  • Problem solving
  • Pursuing or creating new opportunities for growth, facilitating partnerships
  • Steering or participating on committees or boards
  • Community or charitable involvement - volunteering, fundraising
  • Inspiring, motivating, or uniting people
  • Being a champion for the organization or team members
  • Integrity or values based awards
  • Professional excellence awards

Just as there are many ways to define "leadership," there are as many, if not more, ways to reward it. With so many possibilities, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Rest assured, whether you're looking for something traditional or more "outside of the box" and unique to your organization, you've come to the right place. At Awarding You, helping customers create the perfect awards is what we do best. In fact… with nearly 30 years of experience, our own in-house designers, state-of-the-art manufacturing, and a customer service team that's second to none, it just so happens we're leaders in this field.

Whether you're thinking of presenting one or two awards here and there or would like to add some new leadership award categories to a larger, more ceremonious employee recognition program, Awarding You can help. Contact us today. Give us a call at 800.753.3384, connect with us by chat, or email us at