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Accessing the Power of Gratitude for Leaders

Gratitude - DeepakA good leader focuses on his or her own development as a leader.  A great leader incorporates and embraces practices the development of leaders within the organization.  According to a recent Gallup poll, 65 percent of people say they don’t feel appreciated at work. Such feelings quickly lead to pervasive negativity, low morale, and decreased productivity.  Feeling unappreciated can be a deterrent to the motivation and aspirations of an emerging leader as far as wanting to grow and rise up within the organization.

Executive function for leaders incorporates modeling and fostering a culture of gratitude. There are a variety of benefits to this approach (also see Making Workers Feel Appreciated) since individuals who receive regular recognition and praise:

  • increase their individual productivity
  • increase engagement among their colleagues
  • are more likely to stay with their organization
  • receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers
  • have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job

Better performance and greater productivity are not the only benefits. The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. General, long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing and motivational potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time and practice.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad or unproductive things in work/life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Work challenges abound, but when we focus on the gifts within our companies or corporations, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things a leader can be grateful for. What’s on your list? How can you begin to develop a culture of gratitude?

“If you are a leader, you can infuse gratitude from the top down, perhaps by making it a required standard of behavior for employees,” says Liz Jazwiec, a well known leadership strategist. She goes on to say, “And if you are an employee, you can start your own grassroots gratitude movement by expressing gratitude yourself and encouraging your co-workers to do so as well. Everyone – and I mean everyone – can show gratitude in a workplace and influence others to do so” (Read more here).

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

For You:

  • Be more systematic about your attempts to practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful in your work/life. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel. Notice how gratitude is impacting your attitude and motivation.
  • Start to practice gratitude in your personal life and then move to your professional life. It may be easier to practice first with family or friends. Even a simple thank you goes a long way.

With Others:

  • Don’t wait for a special occasion. Begin to say thank you and provide recognition about other’s everyday efforts and achievements.
  • Focus on sending notes or emails to recognize jobs well done, if you are shy or lack time. It’s a first step.
  • Provide opportunities for others to express appreciation and gratitude during informal conversations or more formal meetings.
  • Talk about the need to appreciate the efforts of others. Recognize the involvement of others who provide productive suggestions in meetings.

Leadership, and leadership development within an organization requires practice.  As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling, even when work is challenging. You will also very likely find that your productivity and performance reach higher levels and the results for you and your team(s) grow accordingly.  That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

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More blogs like this:  Do Not Disturb: Express Your Gratitude

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(Some author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications)