Why I Believe Gratitude And Leadership Are Linked

Gratitude is a powerful leadership skill!

The topic of gratitude is gaining more and more air space. Let’s dive straight into the topic, what it is, why it’s great and how connected it is to great leadership.

Gratitude can be defined as a positive emotion felt after receiving something valuable, studies have shown that people who are grateful feel happier. The benefits of gratitude can include:

  • An improved sense of wellbeing.
  • Higher self-esteem.
  • Less anxiety.
  • Better sleep.

Despite all its compelling benefits, expressing gratitude at work doesn’t always happen. 

One study  found that while about half of people regularly say thank you to their family members, only about 15% of people regularly say thank you at work. The same study found that 35% of people say that their managers have never thanked them. This % is so extensive that some articles are even referring to this as the gratitude gap.

More than ever,  organisations need leaders who can show authentic empathy in the workplace, communicate effectively, and create psychological safety at work, not prioritising gratitude as a leader makes it difficult for leaders to create shared vision, motivate employees to collaborate together successfully while keeping talented, engaged employees.

Organisations can boost employee engagement, motivation, productivity, and retention — as well as their satisfaction and even their health when leaders express more gratitude at work.

Showing gratitude in the workplace

Showing gratitude in the workplace is particularly important during times of change, precisely because change can’t be done alone. Leaders must display sensitivity to their colleagues’ needs. Gratitude is a social behaviour that draws people together.

It took me a long time to discover the benefits of gratitude and leadership during my c-level career. To be honest in my early career I never expressed gratitude or told my team how much I appreciated them. I very much set the bar so high that they often wondered what they needed to do to gain my approval . Once I realised the error of my ways my leadership style dramatically changed. My team perceived me as more open, approachable; they were motivated by my positive mindset and more so by the positive feedback I expressed to them when I was grateful for their efforts at work.

Being generous with your positive praises is not a sign of weakness or vulnerability.  The truth is being grateful is a sign of strength because our gratitude and appreciation are the foundation blocks to building a stronger and more resilient team. 

If you are a leader who has not yet adopted a practice of gratitude at work, try it! This is not a load of cobwebs and you will see some great benefits.

Here are my tips to think about when you are starting to make a space for gratitude within your team:

  • Give thanks for people’s willingness, enthusiasm, commitment, or efforts — not just their impact on the bottom line.
  • Practising gratitude in the workplace requires thinking about how specific people like to be thanked and tailoring your show of gratitude accordingly.  You know your team, a public thank you of a very shy team member may not be appreciated.
  • Be specific about your gratitude- generic messages are not sincere. Saying “Thanks for being so great yesterday!” doesn’t have the same impact as “Thank you for getting to the meeting early to set up the screen-share and presentation; I know that our meetings wouldn’t go as smoothly if we didn’t have you working behind the scenes and having our back.
  • Authentic leadership and showing vulnerability are key parts of gratitude in leadership. If you can’t think of anything you’re truly grateful for, don’t try to fake it. Most people can tell when an expression of thanks isn’t heartfelt, and expressing an insincere gratitude at work is probably worse than showing none at all. Insincere gratitude won’t get you anywhere with your team, actually it will leave them puzzled and flat.

Everyone can use the positive benefits of giving and receiving more heartfelt thanks. So, get out there and start expressing and encouraging more gratitude in leadership!

Contact me today for a free discovery call

Lets see if we are a good fit to work together

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