Reward, recognition and the power of leverage

The concept of leverage is fascinating isn’t it?  Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

So we can consider leverage conceptually as something small that has the power to generate massive movement or force. Here’s an easy example.  Many of my clients are banks, and banks are highly leveraged businesses.  It takes just a small amount of capital to support many times that amount in risk assets (interest-generating loans) although specific requirements vary by country, asset tier and the type of capital in the formula.*

Of course bankers will also point out that many of their commercial customers are also highly leveraged, relying on substantial debt to support their own income-producing assets. Leverage is a finely calculated metric in the business world, where dollars are the common yardstick.

But we’re here to talk about human performance, and as I’ve written before in sales management articles, managers can take advantage of leverage to perform very small but meaningful acts to generate powerful feelings of loyalty and dedication in their workforce.  This dedication results in greater performance and employee retention.  So if you are a manager, and you’re not finding imaginative and powerful ways to reward and recognize employee performance, you are missing one of the greatest leverage tools ever.

Now it’s story time. I have a friend, Laura Euckert, who recently accepted a position with a company that provides aerospace technology services. She does a fine job for them, and they appreciate her contribution.

Laura is also an ultra-marathoner, which for those of you who are not familiar with the term, is a person who runs race distances longer than the standard marathon of 26.2 miles.  Last Sunday I competed against her in a 50 kilometer race (31.1 miles) and I can tell you she is very good, as she has completed over 60 such races, many even longer than 50K.

So now that she has been there long enough to have business cards, her enlightened management team ordered them for her.  Seems like a simple thing, not very expensive or time-consuming right?

Lauras bus cardBut these guys didn’t get into the aerospace business by being dumb.  They used their heads and thought, “What would really light her up?”

I’ll let you judge for yourself. Take a close look at what the business card says.

Of course Laura is thrilled with her new cards, and they do more than just make her smile. Every time that card is handed out to a customer or company provider, it becomes an ice-breaker and relationship-builder for her company.  Those managers knew what they were doing.

If you put your mind to it, you can probably think of dozens of “outside the box,” creative ideas to surprise and delight your team. It only takes your willingness to do so and a “What if?” attitude.

It’s a management tool to help you…


Think Like Your Customer

*Basel II requires that the total capital ratio must be no lower than 8%.

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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