Gratitude and Enhanced Leadership

by Elaine Morris & Henry Evans

As this calendar year comes to a close, we hope you’re not too busy to take a few moments and reflect on what you’re thankful for as a leader.

In our practice, we see that leaders who cultivate the habit of expressing gratitude benefit personally and have a positive impact on their teams. Although gratitude is not officially listed as an“emotional intelligence” competency, we see it as a vital part of building a powerful and enlivened culture. Here are three reasons why:

1. Gratitude Yields a More Realistic Perspective

Leadership icon Peter Drucker said, “The job of a leader is to interpret reality.” By showing appreciation for what is working well, a leader helps balance out any negative effects caused by everyday challenges and stresses. This helps the team focus on a clear view of the larger picture.

2. Thankfulness Engenders Optimism

In hard times leaders must find ways to keep hope alive. Do you recognize that you have to influence yourself before you can influence others? Creating optimism is an “inside job.” To help accomplish this, consider using a gratitude journal to remind you to focus beyond problems. Some people use inspiring quotations and stories to motivate themselves. Some keep a file of “thank you” notes from customers and employees, and when they have rough days or business downturns, these memories are helpful reminders of other possibilities.

3. Gratitude Helps Form a Culture of Appreciation

When leaders thank and praise employees (and customers), positive feelings are created which lead to higher levels of motivation. The positive vibes created by acknowledgement deepen the bonds between people and organizations, fostering enhanced employee retention and greater customer loyalty.

Emotional intelligence research shows that people work more efficiently and effectively in conditions that are relationally and personally rewarding. Such atmospheres become contagious, and lead to more positive interactions throughout the culture and the marketplace. Additionally, Harvard Business School says that 70-85% of an organizational climate is created by leadership behavior.

To thrive during this economic winter, successful leaders strive to innovate the way they relate to their people, not just their processes. These leaders hold themselves accountable for their actions and relationships.

So what do you do?

Express your Gratitude Now! Pick up the phone, write a hand-written note, or send a quick email to thank an important person for the contribution they made to you this year.

As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on facebook to share your experiences or email us at [email protected].

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