Expressing gratitude can be a game-changer – at the office, and in your life in general.
Showing gratitude with a simple “Thank You” is something most people learn as children.
But now that you’re an adult, how often do you take the time to show gratitude? To your significant other? To your friends? What about professional contacts and colleagues?
There’s a growing body of research to indicate that gratitude is more than a “positive emotion” – it improves your health, and possibly the health of others.
Some leaders choose to treat others as “appliances” or plug-and-play widgets easily replaced at the drop of a hat.
Have you ever worked someplace (or with someone) where you’re not valued? Where your skills aren’t appreciated? Where you don’t feel you’re being heard?
I’m not suggesting that people can’t be replaced – they can – but we are humans, not machines. We are not widgets. Widgets and appliances don’t have brains, emotions, or free will.
People leave organizations. Sometimes at the worst possible time.
As Mark Goulston writes, “study after study has shown that no one is immune from the motivating effects of acknowledgment and thanks. In fact, research by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino has shown that saying thank you not only results in reciprocal generosity — where the thanked person is more likely to help the thanker — but stimulates prosocial behavior in general. In other words, saying “thanks” increases the likelihood your employee will not only help you but help someone else.”
In other words, gratitude makes us all better. How we treat people matters. (Trust me. I had my own transformational experience.)
It sounds so simple, but how often do you tell the people around you how thankful you are for everything they do?
In fact, how we treat people when the chips are down may be even more important – especially if you have a small team or a tight budget. People are more likely to run into the fire with you if you can see the good – and thank people for it.
If that’s not enough for you, here are five ways gratitude makes you a better leader.
Gratitude breeds success
Your success greatly depends on collaboration with other people. Saying thank you and sharing success is attractive.
“When you are grateful, others like to be around you. Your appreciation includes and supports them. You help them see the positive elements inherent in daily life, and to feel more hopeful about the possibility of future success,” writes Erika Andersen.
Gratitude brings peace
I challenge you to be angry and grateful at the same time. Give it a try.
You can’t have both anger and thankfulness.
It’s your choice. You alone choose how to engage with a situation.
Be grateful or be angry, sullen, and distrustful. Then take it a step further. Who would you rather be around?
Being grateful helps you find not only inner peace but also peace amidst the chaos around us.
When you shift how you view the world to a grateful mindset, it brings you peace. You start to see an opportunity where it previously didn’t exist.
Gratitude opens doors
When you lead with gratitude, you see opportunity everywhere because you are choosing to see the good with the bad, and focus on the good rather than the bad.
This is especially true when you’ve failed. If you’re looking for a way to view failure from a new perspective, then watch this clip from Jocko Willink:
Jocko doesn’t mention gratitude. But what he’s talking about is when life hands you a disappointment it’s also handing you an opportunity.
When you can see the good and be grateful for something – even on your worst day – then you’ve already opened a new door.
Want to stay bogged down? Focus on failure. Rehash it. Fire people. Burn bridges. Blame everyone around you. Just remember those four fingers pointed back at you when you play the blame game. As a leader, the buck stops with you.
The ability to see the good (and be grateful for it) regardless of the circumstances opens infinitely more doors.
Gratitude builds resilience
Having gratitude while facing challenges builds resilience.
When you are grateful for everything you have then you’re more likely to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and move on when things don’t go right.
Let’s face it, if you have a bed, electricity, water, and an Internet connection to read this blog post – you have a lot to be grateful for.
So, think about how you treat others – and yourself – when life isn’t perfect. Stop beating yourself up and look at what went right, who to thank, and how to move forward.
Blaming, wallowing, laying in bed all day rehashing the past …. these actions are the opposite of resilience. Leaders look for the nuggets of wisdom and move forward.
Being a sad sack about the past isn’t very resilient.
Gratitude increases trust
Showing gratitude in good times and bad increases trust.
Have you ever worked for a volatile leader? Someone who’s great until things don’t go his/her way?
If you want to build trust and reap the pay it forward benefits discussed earlier, show gratitude.
When you show consistent appreciation for the people around you, you are more likely to have people stand behind you when you must make tough choices.
How has gratitude helped you? We’d love to hear your comments!
In addition to solving hairy marketing operations problems, I host one of the best business podcasts for women, the Women Conquer Business podcast, which provides actionable strategies, business how-to’s, and real-world advice from subject matter experts and entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business. But if you want the REAL story, I am an uber-nerd who loves dad jokes, building seamless systems, and helping leaders find more joy in their work.