Growing Appreciation in Your Workplace Community: A Leader’s Guide

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while some believe it is only about that special LOVE, I want to challenge YOU and ALL leaders to make this Valentine’s Day about showing appreciation to the people in your workplace community.


Leaders who want to acknowledge their appreciation of workplace community members will want to remember the 5 love languages that Gary Chapman and Paul White wrote about in their book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace or go to their website


Five Love Languages







Leaders: don’t be discouraged if you just can’t figure out who has what love language, Just try SOMETHING.  I think it is a good idea to make a chart and list your employees and what you think their love language is. Some leaders can just do this in your head. You might also want to add a column that denotes the dates that you really took the time to appreciation that employee in an authentic and conscious way.  Seriously, you may THINK you are giving appreciation, but if you document it and reflect: Am I giving appreciation to everyone? Am I doing this rarely or sometime or frequently? The only way to know is to take the time to check your notes and reflect.



Author and psychologist Paul White who I mentioned above wrote a great article in the February 2014 issue of Educational Leadership (ASCD) where he lists 4 key core conditions for appreciation in the workplace.

  • Regularly communicated
  • Use their love language
  • Make it personal and individualized
  • Authentic with no ulterior motive



Here are some things leaders really need to consider:

CONFLICT:  Showing appreciation to someone you have a conflict with needs to start with a conversation: “I realize we did not agree on that, but I want you to know that I do truly appreciate your work on … because…” Sending a note just won’t do until the conflict is addressed.

FEAR:  I know it isn’t easy to put yourself out there. Yes it is possible that you show appreciation, and it just isn’t accepted. Perhaps you even become the butt of a joke in the lunch room. That doesn’t matter.  Do the right thing and do what you would like to see others doing.  Put aside your fear!

AUTHENTIC: No matter what you must be authentic.  Your appreciation should be specific so that the person knows what you valued in him/her and maybe even take the time to include why this was valued.  Please don’t show appreciation if you don’t really mean it!

ONGOING:  If you want appreciation to be part of the culture in your workplace community, you need to model what you hope to see.  You can’t just send a Christmas card with a message and then wait again for the next Christmas.

Vary your timing. hearts

Vary your boldness.

Vary the type of appreciation you give and why you give it.

Sometimes show appreciation: just because…

Sometimes show appreciation for work well done.

Take the personal approach and give appreciation when you know the person is going through something difficult in their own personal life. 

Ongoing appreciation in big and little ways will build this kind of culture in your workplace community and soon, leaders, you will see and hear other employees doing the same thing you are.

MANNERS:  Leaders use so much technology today to communicate and of course that’s good and needed. But, it can’t be the only way we leaders communicate.  I encourage you to take the time to ALWAYS say THANK YOU and ALWAYS say PLEASE and YOU ARE WELCOME and I AM SORRY.

Simple words are big encouragement especially if they are consistently used all of the time!


Your person’s love language determines what the leader is going to do to show appreciation.  I do have some favorites.

  • Photograph of the person at work: everyone loves to see their own picture
  • Hand written note sent to their home
  • Hand written note sent to their spouse or parent telling how wonderful this person is
  • Some people appreciate it when you acknowledge that their family is #1 in their life.  Send them a website that reminds you of them related to family. Ask about their family members by name. Ask to see pictures of their growing children or grandchildren.  Be personal. They will feel appreciated.
  • If you know the person is spiritual, pick out an appropriate Bible verse.
  • Send them home early.  Perhaps you have a hard-working employee that never misses work, but is at work sick.  Cover for them and send them home telling them you appreciate how they never miss.
  • Help the person with their work. Just dig in and help.  Perhaps that would be serving food or shoveling sidewalks.
  • Just stop in and talk about NOTHING!  And share your appreciation.


Each one of us loves to be appreciated. You can do this. Not just once, but on a regular basis.

Be personal. Be real. Be specific.

But no matter what, JUST START!  Just TRY SOMETHING! And, HAVE FUN!

Growing appreciation in the workplace community has such possibilities for leaders!

Please comment:

What is one idea you have to show appreciation in your workplace community?



Wyatt Hanks: A Determined Pioneer Leader

Leadership Takes Determination

Leadership takes determination any time, but what about a time when more is UNKNOWN than known about the future.  I have heard people ask, “How do you motivate others, when you don’t know what’s really going to happen?”  Uncertainties may cause concern, but good leaders can turn these into positives and model strong determination to succeed.  I’d like to introduce you to Wyatt Hanks, my husband’s 1st cousin, 5 times removed.  He must have had a great deal of determination as he helped to settle land wild with the unknown.  This is genealogy at its best.  This is leadership at its best.


wagon trainWar of 1812

Peter Hanks IV, a private in Lt. Berry’s Mounted Riflemen of the Indiana Militia died from an injury received at the Battle of Tippecanoe at age 44.  He left behind his wife and 7 children.  Wyatt Hanks was his oldest child.  Wyatt also served in the War of 1812 in the Mounted Riflemen as a private and then the Mounted Rangers as a Corporal.

….Wyatt was only 17.

Determination by wagon train…

wagon train

Wyatt traveled by wagon train with at least one of his brothers to Texas and at age 21 married Hannah Gates who was the widow of an Indian trader and the daughter of William Gates who is considered one of the Old 300-one who received a land grant from Stephen Austin’s first colony.  They actually end up residing in Old Miller Company, Arkansas. Because of its location so near the Texas border, residents considered themselves Texans.  Wyatt must have known the hardships that were ahead of him. Despite that, he began his journey not just into the wilds of Texas, but into a life of leadership possibilities.

Government Leadership at age 25

Wyatt resided in Pecan Point, Arkansas in 1820.  He helped settlers there secure clear title to their lands and he was commissioned as a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas.  Wyatt Hanks had already positioned himself as a leader among his neighbors.  He was known to most as the Judge.  Unfortunately an 1825 treaty with the Choctaw Cherokee Indians gave the Indians land at Pecan Point.  The Judge and his family had to move on.

Leadership during the Texas Revolutionwater powered sawmill

The Judge and his family moved on to the Ayish Bayou in the Old Mexican Municipality in San Augustine County.  By the time he was 30, he built the first water powered sawmill in Texas.  In the same year he was selected to the General Council as a representative of the Bevil Municipality of Jasper County, Texas.  Judge Hanks was a key player in the provisional government of Texas.  He co-authored a handbill asking Texans to “come to the aid of their country”.

Try to imagine the character of this man who was now 36 years old in 1832. Men trust him during a very turbulent and dangerous time. Surely this was a man who led with great

determination and bravery.  He volunteered to defend the civil authority against military Mexicans and became a Captain, Camp Adjutant (aide) to Colonel JW Bullock, the commander.  Wyatt Hanks was a leader in this fight for freedom. This Battle of Nacagdoches resulted in the permanent removal of Mexican forces in Eastern Texas.  Wyatt’s brother Horatio joined James Bowie (and a team of 17 men), chased 300 Mexican troops and captured them.  The Mexicans surrendered because they thought the military force was much bigger than just 17 men.  CAN YOU IMAGINE!! 17 MEN!!  Many called this Battle of Nacagdoches the beginning (“first gun”) of the Texas Revolution.


Wyatt obviously was a model of determination and leadership to his neighbors, fellow soldiers, and brothers.  Remember this Hanks family lost their father when Wyatt, the old boy was only 17 years old.  His brothers and family looked to Wyatt for confidant leadership and wisdom.  He led the way.

You’ve already read about Wyatt’s brother Horatio and his bravery. Horatio maintained a significant level of leadership in the Texas community because today you can tour his home in San Augustine.  Back in the 1830’s, Brothers James and Wyatt were chosen by the Ayish Bayou settlers to choose the site for their town of San Augustine.   This community needed someone in leadership to represent them as Texas began the journey to independence. The settlers of San Augustine elected Wyatt as a delegate to the Convention of 1832.  Wyatt served on 5 committees including establishing the state militia and the public school system. None of these are paid positions; so at the same time-remember Wyatt had to provide for his family. Life could not have been easy.

Land Grant

Wyatt’s determination and leadership was rewarded by being granted a league of land in the Lorenzo de Zavala colony.  In Town Bluff, Tyler County, Wyatt operated a ferry where the Coushatta Trace crossed the Neches River.  This is commonly called the Natchez on the Neches.  A monument war erected and still stands there today.  I have to wonder with his political involvement and power growing: HOW DID HE HAVE TIME TO START A BUSINESS?!

Writing letters to Generals

For the remainder of the Texas Revolution, Wyatt was the Quartermaster of the Jasper Volunteers.  As the Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs he wrote a letter to General Austin asking the General’s opinion on the creation of a Corp of Cavalry.  Wyatt signs the letter “Your friend and Obt Sert”.  He added as a post script that he also sent a letter to General Houston asking him his opinion about creating the Corp of Cavalry and the size.

At the height of Wyatt’s political and military career, he was only a 40 year old man and had already led a life of leadership more than 10 men!  But he still had work to do. Wyatt Hanks was soon elected a delegate to the Consultation of 1835 which included 12 men who drafted the Declaration of November 7, 1835 to take up arms against Mexico.  This led to Texas independence!

Declaration of Texas with Wyatt Hanks's signature

Declaration of Texas with Wyatt Hanks’s signature

Somehow in all this time, Wyatt maintained involvement in advocating for the public school system.  He donated 1200 acres of land to Wesleyan College and maintained a trustee position with San Augustine Female Academy.  He was Grand Master of Tyler’s Masonic Lodge and had Masonic affiliations in most of the communities he had resided in.

After Texas gained independence, Wyatt was listed as owning 18, 898 acres of land.  In the 1850 census at age 55, Wyatt listed his occupation as a farmer owning $30,000 worth of land.  In 1854 tax lists showed he owned over 29,000 acres of land and 23 slaves.   At age 65, Wyatt began downsizing. He moved to the Big Thicket area (Clark, Liberty County) to live with his son George and there he died at age 67, 1862.


Texas still honors this determined pioneer leader with a historical marker in Jasper, Texas.

Jasper County marker Wyatt Hanks on marker


Handbook of Texas Online: Wyatt Hanks

Battle of Nacogdoches Marker

Cherokee Indian Agreement with Austin, Wyatt Hanks signed

Jasper County Cemetery: Land that was in Wyatt Hanks’s League

Miller County, Arkansas: Wyatt Hanks, the judge

The Texas Cherokee

Town Bluff

Town Bluff, Tyler County, Texas

Neches Riverboat Ferry


A Healthy Leader is a Great Leader at Work AND Home



Many working women find it very difficult to make the time to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. Managing work life, home life, community life and trying to make your personal and spiritual life the priority becomes overwhelming and seemingly impossible to do well.  In this blog I will share with you why some experts believe a healthy lifestyle will make YOU a better LEADER!!  Here’s to healthy leadership!

Healthy Leadership

I love to read. I will read instead of doing just about anything…including exercising. Because of that I tend to read everything I can find about a subject so that I have “data” to back up my thoughts and expertise. I hope you are not like me: tending to read about exercising while eating a teeny tiny piece of candy instead of just exercising.  WELL IT IS TIME TO STOP READING and TAKE ACTION!

Are FIT LEADERS better leaders?

One book I have had on my shelf called Fit to Lead  by Dr. Christopher Neck (and “some of America’s most successful business and fitness experts”) has really made me think in a different way about this healthy lifestyle business as it relates to my leadership roles. I think you may appreciate it too.

In their introduction the authors share several stories of personal fitness and nutrition success from company CEO’s. They site a survey of top management professionals from 3000 of the top US companies.

  • 2/3 of executives exercised at least 3 times weekly
  • More than 90% focused on aerobic activity
  • 81% had a complete physical exam within the last 2 years
  • 90% reported being careful with diet
  • 10% smoked

These authors claim “that leaders who are fit are better able to handle the enormous demands that confront them…” and that “the fitness of key executives can help determine the success of the company.” (introduction)

fit to lead

A Healthy Leader is A GREAT Leader at Work AND at Home




Fit to Lead is a book that gives you a plan for physical, nutritional, and emotional healthiness.  Doesn’t sound new; does it?  But this book differs because of the interviews and discussions with women and men CEO’s who are doing this RIGHT!

“…if some of the busiest people in the world can find the time to exercise, the rest of us can, too.” (intro)

Yes I know what you readers are thinking: you don’t have a nanny or a housekeeper or a gym at your workplace or any other number of excuses.  But here’s the thing:  let’s just step into this CEO role, see ourselves as equal to the task, and just as valuable as these noted company CEO’s!  You could be in their position TOMORROW!  So get ready NOW!

FIT TO LEAD is a lifestyle plan that includes 3 basic components.

(3 doesn’t sound so bad-does it?)

  1. Body Fitness: anywhere, anytime exercise focusing on endurance, strength, flexibility
  2. Mental Fitness: Fit from the Inside Out! (chapter 6)
  3. Nutritional Fitness:

Step 1-reduce bad fats and maximize good fats (78)

Step 2-include fiber in your diet (81)

Step 3-increase calcium levels (83)

Step 4– eat fruits and vegetables (85)

Step 5Eat Smarter Fast Food (my favorite!) (87)

Step 6-hold back on refined foods (89)

Step 7– implement quick and easy cooking (90)

Step 8-There is an art to eating out! (92) (as long as I can keep eating out; I’m good!)

The best exercise is the one you will do! (41)

Schedule fitness in your calendar, just like a meeting. (40)

Impressive for me was the chapter dedicated to the specific needs of women leaders.  In this chapter a woman author describes the needs that women have different from most males.  But she also shows how healthiness can impact both home life AND leadership in the work place.

“Remember we don’t just lead at the office; we also lead at home.”(46)

Women in leadership are role models!

Learn how to say NO!(49) (and this doesn’t mean to healthy living either…)

“My biggest achievement has been balancing my home life with my work life” (53)

 Don’t you want this to be YOU… It can be!  You can do this!  Healthy living and healthy leading are achievable!

Do you feel selfish or guilty taking time away from home to exercise? You are not alone!  (See pages 54)

My favorites tips from the book Fit to Lead The Proven Solution for Shaping Up Your Body, Mind, and Career authored by some of America’s most successful business and fitness experts:

  • Use downtime wisely. (60)
  • Keep tennis shoes in various locations, ready to use. (60)
  • Feeling fatigued at the end of the day is often because we do not handle workplace stress well. ENDURANCE exercises (walking, running, swimming) make us feel good all over again! (61)
  • Overachievers BEWARE: don’t be an overachiever at fitness!  Moderation and consistency…

Make this your best year ever by make healthy living a priority.

Healthy living and healthy leader are achievable!


Is PINK the new RED?

PINK is the new RED: Powerful and Strong


Healing Flowers: PINK and RED!

Flowers sent by my cousin Sheila after surgery: PINK and RED!

PINK was the color of my bedroom when I was a young girl. My mom let me pick out the color, but I don’t know why I chose PINK. I wasn’t a very girlie girl…  I loved that bedroom though!

In our first mortgaged home, my remodeled kitchen was painted in a deep mauve, but turned out to look PINK. You know how you pick out a paint color and then when it gets finished it’s an oopsie!  Well my kitchen had a big oopsie in PINK, but I couldn’t admit that, so I worked with the pink paint. With the classy oak cupboards and gorgeous paisley wallpaper, the paint looked less pink, but never the less, my father in law won’t let me forget the PINK kitchen.  I loved that kitchen!

I love my garden. This was a plant sent to me from the staff. The blooms opened and closed each day.

I love my garden. This was a plant sent to me from the staff. The blooms opened and closed each day reminding me: one day at a time.


My very good friend’s son is a senior in high school this year, and his basketball team is in a tournament championship tonight-a really BIG game! She texted me that the student section always picks a theme for each game and her son got to pick the theme for tonight’s championship. He picked PINK.  I was moved to tears, actually downright sobbing…

Going to work every day helped with the healing. I knew that PINK had become a symbol for SURVIVAL and STRENGTH!

Going to work every day helped with the healing. I knew that PINK had become a symbol for SURVIVAL and STRENGTH!

I’m not sobbing because of my bedroom I left behind as a young girl or the beautiful kitchen I left when we moved, or even how cute my 5 month old niece looks like in PINK, but because today my mammograms came out normal. Today I had my year check up after a breast cancer diagnosis one year ago.  I’m sobbing because a high school male senior picked PINK to celebrate one of the most important games of his life. How PINK has changed! The new PINK reminds me of what I’ve always thought RED represented.

Aunt Kim with Niece Jaylen

Aunt Kim with Niece Jaylen

PINK has new meaning for me. It no longer represents just the color that cute little girls wear or paint their rooms. Instead when I see PINK I stand a little taller, I smile a little bigger, and I tear up just a bit because I know that today’s PINK represents hope, pride, and strength enough to win the championship game!

Being a first year superintendent is challenging for anyone. Being a first year superintendent, while also being a principal is very challenging.  But being a first year superintendent/principal with a diagnosis of breast cancer-an aggressive breast cancer-is, well, amusing!  I hated PINK last spring. I hated that it represented a diagnosis that led to scars, chemotherapy, radiation, weight gain, hair and nail loss, and weakened body. I hated PINK ribbons that reminded me that I had to focus my over achieving self on conquering cancer and not on building the highest achieving small school district ever!

Superintendent Hanks with Teacher Baker who just won an award

Superintendent Hanks with Teacher Baker who just won an award

It’s spring again. This spring PINK looks a little more like hope.  The staff at my school have seen me at my physical worse: days when talking, walking, and standing was difficult.  But they have also seen that I am walking stronger these last few weeks.  The students know that my principal voice is back almost 100 percent.  I can no longer say I’m bald. And I can laugh when 6th grade Daniel tosses his long blond hair back and smiles-”One day soon Mrs. Hanks, you will be able to do this!”.  It’s comforting to know that I can go to the early childhood classroom next week and share with 3,4, and 5 year olds what it was like to lose my hair and now have it back! I think of the moms and grandmas and aunties and have hope that if they have to go on the same journey I have, that the students and staff at my school will be encouraged and hopeful because they have watched me on my journey.

I was invited to the early childhood classroom to talk with 3, 4,and 5 year olds about HAIR!!

DSC04812 DSC04815

Superintendent Hanks (in hat) talking with Superintendent Humbles and State Representative Gordan-Booth

Superintendent Hanks (in hat) talking with Superintendent Humbles and State Representative Gordan-Booth

When I see PINK now, I feel proud.  Overcoming the physical and emotional effects of the treatment was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to face, not withstanding the premature birth of our son. I can hold my head up when I see PINK because I have endured the discomforts and agonies associated with my treatment.  I can hold my head up when I see PINK because I am winning the emotional battle I fight each day as I heal from this treatment.

Superintendent Hanks with Bookkeeper Kitty and Secretary Sherry celebrating last day of radiation. All students wore PINK.

Superintendent Hanks with Bookkeeper Kitty and Secretary Sherry celebrating last day of radiation. All students wore PINK.

RED used to be the suit I’d wear to represent power and strength, but I think PINK just might be the new RED!

March 2, 2012

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