noun: recognition; plural noun: recognitions

1. the action or process of recognizing or being recognized, in particular.

   2.    identification of a thing or person from previous encounters or knowledge

   3.    acknowledgment of something's existence, validity, or legality.

Dan Pink is an extraordinary researcher and expositor on business motivation and leadership.  His best selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and the resulting animation that summarized the book were a revolution to me while transitioning from a banking career to business coaching.

His contention that autonomy, mastery, and purpose were greater motivators than money for most people in most positions, helped me solidify many of my core convictions about leadership.  Clarifying roles, developing people, and wrapping our work in a transcendent purpose is actually the pathway to much more successful enterprises.  His “science” proved that many of the things we’ve discerned about leading a business with a “Kingdom perspective” are fundamentally great business practices as well.

Dan’s most recent book, released yesterday (as I write this) is called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and talks about the power of harnessing daily, weekly, annual, and even decade rhythms for more productivity and a better life.  Just the kind of stuff we love to learn and incorporate into our coaching practices.

One thing, in an early release interview with Dan, really caught my attention.  He talked about the “Recognition Gap”.  He quoted a survey that found:

  • 80% of all leaders thought they regularly offered praise, recognition, and affirmation to those they lead
  • 20% of those they led thought they were regularly offered praise, recognition, and affirmation

This 80/20 disparity is the “Recognition Gap".

Leaders regularly challenge me when I encourage them to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of their team.  Some of their reasons are…

  • “It isn’t natural for me.”
  • “I’ve already told them.”
  • “They already know that I appreciate them.”
  • “I'm afraid they will forget that they still have challenges they need to address.”

But whether professional or personal, child or adult, the path to changing requires two key ingredients:

  • accountability to work on the things that must improve
  • recognition of the things that are already going well

It takes both.

The problem is that all of the available data points towards us not being very good at either.  Most business owners and leaders regularly acknowledge the need for greater accountability in their companies, but far too few ever talk about the need for greater recognition.

We’re trying to change that.  

We want to help close the "Recognition Gap".


  • How aware are you of the challenges you face with most of your leaders?
  • How aware are you of the things that are special, unique, or valuable in each one of them?
  • When is the last time you recognized them for their contribution?  (and we mean face-to-face, personally, specifically, and hopefully in the public eye of others)
  • Jot down the names of a few key team members, write down what they need to be recognized for, and plan the time and method to get it done.  It may be the most impactful thing you can do for your team members and company right now.