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Gratitude as a Leadership Attitude

Once a year, we celebrate Thanksgiving. For many, this is a time to get together with family and friends to enjoy a great meal. For others, it’s a time of reflection and to give thanks for the many great things we have going on in our lives. And for many, including myself, it’s a combination of both.

This time of giving thanks certainly can show up as a way to demonstrate our appreciation to others – and it should also be a time for us to reflect internally on what we have too.

But gratitude doesn’t have to be a “once a year” thing that happens just in November. Gratitude can and should actually be practiced on a regular basis to not only give us a greater sense of appreciation in life, but gratitude should also be practiced as part of our leadership approach too.

Gratitude as a leadership style is a powerful way to impact your team, the organization, as well as your own personal motivation too. Gratitude is not only about expressing your thanks and appreciation for a job well done, but gratitude is a mindset that applies to how we show up every day.

Gratitude for Your Team

Gratitude as a leadership style can become an integral part of how you influence and build your team. In its most obvious form, gratitude is letting your team know how much you appreciate them on a regular basis and includes letting them know when they do a good job. On the flip side, gratitude should also be applied to constructive feedback and letting your team know how much you appreciate their attempts too – after all, feedback is a gift. Gratitude can be expressed verbally, in team meetings, over email, handwritten thank you notes, small gifts as a token of appreciation, and more.

Gratitude in Your Organization

As leaders, your impact expands significantly beyond your direct reports. While it may feel more natural and easier to express gratitude and provide appreciation to your team members, the concept of gratitude extends far beyond your team to the broader organization as well. You have the ability to express your thanks and appreciation – and provide feedback – to those who are not direct reports without question too. When you carry an attitude of gratitude, it encourages others to do the same. Your team and those you influence will appreciate the way you lead them and will work to mirror or emulate the same attitude. As you build your gratitude practice, others will naturally do the same creating a positive and uplifting culture.

Gratitude for Personal Motivation

There are many benefits to incorporating gratitude in our lives – not only as the leadership approach that we’ve been discussing, but also as a way for us to internalize our own gifts, strengths and sense of appreciation for what is going well for us. It is even a way for us to accept challenges as a way to grow and teach us along the way too. Gratitude can be hard to incorporate in times of struggle, but by taking a moment each day to reflect on what we have, we can feel and experience greater positivity, an enhanced mood, have more energy and that can have legs to impact the rest of our life.

How to Start

Gratitude has significant benefits for us, our teams, our companies, and of course our friends and family too. Creating a habit of gratitude can be hard to do, especially when things don’t seem to be going our way, but it takes just a small amount of time each day to build this as a natural part of our everyday lives.

One easy way to begin to build this practice is to take a few minutes every day and write down the top three things you are most grateful for. It can be a list that you keep on your phone, one that you write in a journal, or one that you mentally log. But by starting to recognize what it is that you are thankful for, you will begin to not only see it at the end of the day, but you’ll recognize it in the moment too. As that happens, the benefits to self and others will follow too.

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