Most people realize the value and importance of being grateful for the positive and meaningful things in their lives. Much has been written about the benefits of an attitude of gratitude.
It doesn’t take much prove that value – your experiences likely are proof enough. When you take the time to “stop and smell the roses” or take a more disciplined approach to thinking about all of the things you have to be thankful for, you know how it makes you feel.
This attitude of gratitude typically/hopefully makes you feel better, reduces your stress and makes you more productive.
When you consider these facts as a leader, you will quickly realize two things:
- The attitude you create for yourself through this process makes you a better leader and professional because the thoughts and feelings spread beyond your personal life.
- As a leader you can help others create those results through your example.
The rest of this article helps you identify specific ways you can show your gratitude for your team and organization. Showing gratitude is a powerful thing; however, you can’t show it or spread it if you aren’t grateful. When you share your gratitude with others you can have an extremely powerful impact on them.
Find Things to be Grateful For
Perhaps it goes without saying, but before you can show your gratitude, you must know what you are grateful for. Spend some time thinking about the specific things in your professional world you are grateful for. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are people doing that you appreciate?
- What skills do people use that are important but overlooked?
- What results are making a difference?
- What do you see people doing that makes a difference for others and/or organizational results?
These are just a few questions to get you started. Spend some quiet time thinking about questions like these and writing down your answers. In the personal development world, many talk about the value of a gratitude journal. This is the leadership version of that idea. Catalog and identify what you are grateful for in the workplace.
Doing this exercise will do another important thing for you – it will get you to be looking for and therefore finding more things on a regular basis. In other words, the value of actually looking is that you will find things to be grateful for. When you make that a habit, you will keep finding things regularly.
Once you have identified things to be grateful for, it is time to share that gratitude with others. Here are three ways to do that.
Say thank you.
We were all taught to say thank you as children. This is one of those obvious and too often overlooked truths. People appreciate it when you simply say thank you. It is more than a pleasantry; it is an important acknowledgement that also builds confidence and gratitude in others. When you are seeing more things to be grateful for, it is easier to say thank you. Say it often. If saying thank you doesn’t come easily to you (or isn’t easy for you to remember), make it a game – set a daily goal for how many times you will sincerely say thank you each day.
Write thank you notes.
Your mother probably taught you this too – when someone gives you a gift, you write them a thank you note. This can and should go far beyond gifts. Unfortunately, the handwritten thank you note is dying a slow and painful death. Yet, when I ask people about the handwritten note, most everyone tells me they have saved one or remember one that they received. Many people have files of them – whether there are 3 or 300. A written thank you note is even more important coming from you as a leader. Email is fine, but it isn’t the same as a handwritten note.
Give gratitude feedback.
As a leader you are expected to give people performance feedback. I suggest that you regularly give gratitude feedback. This goes beyond the simple (but important) thank you. This is when you give people very specific feedback about how much you appreciate what they did – and share the impact it had on you, others and/or organizational results. This has nothing specifically to do with performance improvement (although that will happen indirectly). Rather, the focus of this feedback is on why their actions mattered and why you appreciate it. Tell people why you are grateful – either verbally or on paper.
These three simple steps can have a massive impact on morale, retention and productivity. And, as previously written, when you focus on things in your life to be grateful for (including work), you accrue benefits too.
However, beyond these quantifiable reasons don’t lose this important fact: being grateful and sharing your gratitude is just the right thing to do – personally and professionally.