I met my friend Paul about six years ago. Paul isn’t his real name, and he would be very embarrassed if he knew I was writing about him. Paul is an area manager for an airport retailer. I had a cup of coffee and a chat with him six years ago, and quickly¬† realised that here was a man I wantedto work with. It was very obvious that he saw his job to be supporting his people to deliver great service and that he had never lived in an ivory tower in his life.

Soon after that first meeting, he was given the job of area manager for one of the regions that I supported in my role as a Learning and Development Consultant. He made it very clear that he saw me as part of his team, even though I wasn’t officially, and I didn’t report to him. He took over from an area manager who was only really interested in achieving his own bonus, and would do anything to achieve that, but was really totally divorced from the reality at the front line of his business.

Paul changed that from Day One. He spent time on the front line, actually serving customers and supporting his team leaders and their people. He set up a weekly communication that recognised great performance, told everyone what was going on with the business and what their part in it was. People couldn’t wait to read it. At his team meetings, recognition was always on the agenda, and he was keen to develop members of his team who wanted to progress within the business. Everyone that wanted a Personal Development Plan had one. We delivered training that was specially designed for his team, and we delivered it to the people who worked evenings and weekends, not just the Monday to Friday people.

After a year or so, Paul realised that he needed to do something more to keep people motivated. We discussed having an annual awards ceremony where top performers in all areas could be recognised, and everyone could have a great night out to celebrate their success. The first evening was great, and Paul decided that it was going to be an annual event.

Last week, I went to the fourth awards ceremony. Again, it was a resounding success, and there was a lovely moment at the end of the evening where Paul was presented with a football shirt from his favourite team, signed by all the players and framed, as a thank you from all his team for being a great manager for the past five years.

How many managers do so much to support their teams that they themselves are recognised by the people they lead?