I once heard a story about a man who worked in your typical corporate America company. Cubicles with little to no interaction with others, no recognition or acknowledgement from upper management, and no one could tell you what the boss looked like. One day an employee was walking into work who happened to be carrying a bunch of change in his hands after buying a quick coffee.
A man rushing in, bumped him and the change went everywhere. The man then mumbled an apology as he rushed in leaving the employee to pick up the change. Feeling already demoralized in his sterile work environment, the employee muttered how he bet the boss didn’t even value him as much as the penny he was picking up.
After lunch that day, there was penny with a note on his desk simply saying “I value you.” His employees were curious as to what this penny meant and as the man explained the significance, others joined in. Pennies would randomly show up on desks, under mouse pads or in empty letter bins.
If we do not value those under us, there is no way we can be meaningful leaders.
The sterile cubicle environment soon became much more intimate. Cubicle walls were removed and they started to interact with each other. Business boomed and morale of course went up. All at the start of a penny.
The morale of this story is these workers were not rallied by a raise, the promise of free lunches or receiving accolades every day. They simply wanted to be acknowledged and noticed. It doesn’t take much to acknowledge the human beings working with you or under you. But it is vitally important. If we do not value those under us, there is no way we can be meaningful leaders.