Mar 102015

Does Practicing Gratitude Make You a Better Leader

An important aspect of leadership is gratitude, or showing gratitude for who people are and what they do. Expressing your gratitude connotes a positive emotion or attitude that recognizes something you have received by acknowledging those who have helped you achieve it.

People who are not grateful tend to be less generous. They are centered on what they deserve or how they have been short-changed. They tend to have a “hoard it” mentality, and cling to what they have.

Leadership entails building community, and expressing gratitude can build healthier communities while deepening the culture of gratitude within an organization. It is one way leaders can walk their talk, and embodies a culture of gratitude in an organization. Think about people who have helped you get where you are. I’m sure you feel grateful for what they have done to help you. Why not show that gratitude?

Expressing your gratitude to those who have helped you gives them a sense of self-worth, which triggers other helpful behaviors. The Return on Investment (ROI) on a simple “thank-you” goes a long way – probably much further than we might think. Taking the opportunity to express gratitude is, without a doubt, a cost-free opportunity to motivate.

Developing a gratitude mindset is important in developing the leadership practice of gratitude. This can be difficult in the frenzied work environment many of us are in. Like most things that are worth developing, it takes practice to develop that mindset until it becomes a habit.

Consider these simple practices you can use to start to develop a gratitude mindset:

1.   Keep a gratitude journal. Journaling is a great way to develop mindsets and neural pathways to notice the positive. Simply keep a journal every day about what you are grateful for. It will boost your positivity and energy.

2.   Notice the contributions that others make. In interactions with others, make it a practice to look for one area of strength or contribution they make. Don’t set the standard too high, simply catch them doing something right.

3.   Create a culture of gratitude. One simple way to do this is to give everyone note cards they can hand out to others as often and as freely as they want. The note cards can say: “Thanks for making a difference.” Individuals may want to expand the note to explain what it was that person did to warrant the gratitude note.

4.   Begin your day by expressing your gratitude to three people, then get to work. End your day with an act of gratitude, then go home.

Leadership is about creating community. It’s about the values, goals and determinations we share. These communities go by different names; most commonly, we call them teams, companies, crews, departments, divisions or organizations. But the one thing they all have in common is that their effectiveness is directly related to how we create that feeling of one-ness, that sense of camaraderie.

Pick your own activity to develop a gratitude culture. I am sure you can come up with one or two of your own. Just start practicing it.

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