by Bill, Leadership

We All Like to be Made to Feel Special

0 Comments 16 January 2010

Tuesday evening, I hosted an executive coaching client for dinner and a Memphis Grizzlies game at FedEx Forum. Our dinner server was a fellow by the name of Ben, who has waited on me at most, twice before. As we were being seated, Ben approached and said to my guest, “My guess is that Mr. Catlette is going to have a glass of Merlot, what can I get you to drink?” I whirled and looked at him in amazement, wondering what other information might be stamped on my forehead. Ben smiled and volunteered that he tries to pay attention to his guests, and make them feel special. Mission accomplished.

Not unlike my son, Will, who tends bar at the Savannah airport and has a following of regular customers (at an airport bar!), Ben has learned that it’s the little things, like remembering a guest’s name and their preferences that lead to  good outcomes. The very same thing holds true for those of us whose job is to lead others. Before we can expect people to follow us with any degree of fervor, we must first take an interest in them… their likes, dislikes, ambitions, apprehensions, etc.

In the age of the disposable worker, this type of care and attention seems counter-intuitive. Speaking of his new sales reps, one office products sales manager admitted to me that, “we don’t really even get to know their names, as most of them won’t be here very long.” I’m willing to bet that a lot of the good performers leave for precisely that reason. Not bothering to know someone’s name, or things that are important to them doesn’t make them feel very special.

Thankfully, this is something that is not constrained by economic forces. We don’t need a positive GDP growth rate to make people feel special. Nor does it require any particular talent. Every one of us can do it. We’ve just got to care enough to take an interest, listen, observe, and then act on what we’ve learned.

I think you’ll find that if you take that extra step, you’ll soon notice that you’ve got more people around you who are willing to go the extra mile.



A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at, or follow him on Twitter at

- who has written 56 posts on Contented Cows.

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.


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