My wife often travels for work. It’s one of the sacrifices we accept in exchange for the ability to work together from home. Trips usually take her away for no more than two or three days, but this month a huge project demanded that she be in New Hampshire for nearly two weeks.

As parents know, the start of school can make September a rough month. And being down by one parent can make it even more difficult. The parent who is left with the kids suddenly gets a lot more appreciative of the missing partner.  

One evening, as the kids and I were trying to get dinner ready, the FedEx van pulled into the driveway and delivered two large boxes for “The Forster Family.” They were from the president of my wife’s company. A card thanked the kids for letting their mother work on this big project, explaining he understood how difficult a long trip like this could be. One of the boxes had a basket of cookies. The other was loaded with fun toys and games.

I could tell you how excited the kids were to open up the box. I could share how the gesture meant the world to my wife. I could tell you how good those cookies were. What I will tell you is, "This is an example of good leadership." 

I read once that you should treat all employees as if they are volunteers, because they are. You pay for their time and their skill set, but we all know they are asked for much more than that. We want people to bring their A game, a great attitude, a willingness to be direct when necessary. We want them to be self-starters, have a sense of ownership, and think entrepreneurially. We pay for their time, but ask them to volunteer their hearts.

Showing appreciation in tangible and meaningful ways can be critical to an organization’s success. Board members can often feel like visitors on campus. In many ways, they are. To students and staff, they hover out there somewhere behind the president, but their leadership role is readily recognized. A show of appreciation from a board member, or the board as a body, is a meaningful gesture.

So I ask you, To whom does your board show appreciation? How do they do it? Are individual members of the board thanked for their service? Does the board reach out beyond the boardroom and thank the administration? How about the students working late nights on the phones, making calls for the annual fund drive? And what of the staff members who put in extra hours to orchestrate a successful board meeting?

Well, that's my two cents for this chilly fall afternoon. As always, I would love to hear your feedback!