How to show gratitude in leadership

Gratitude is important in leadership. In fact, it’s important in everyday life.

Gratitude is one of the 10 leadership activities included in my checklist: 10 steps to improve your performance at work.  It’s a simple thing that can make a huge difference to your performance as a leader.

Improve your performance as a leader
Download your free copy of ’10 steps to improve your performance at work’

Why is gratitude so important?

It’s hard to recognise the positives when you’re focusing on the targets you’re not achieving. Maybe you’re focusing on what’s wrong with people and what’s broken, or find yourself quick to notice the smallest of problems?

I’m a true believer that “what you focus on becomes your reality.”

  • How often do you focus on the targets you’ve achieved?
  • What would happen if you started looking at what’s working well?
  • What’s stopping you taking some time out to reflect on what you’re grateful for each day?

Being grateful helps you have an overall positive outlook. It also increases how much positive emotion you feel.

Here’s a few tips on how to incorporate gratitude into your leadership practice:

Focus on the positives

Senior leaders often find themselves firefighting, focusing on what isn’t going well and doing everything they can to turn it around. When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to spot what’s not quite right. It’s more difficult to notice the great things going on around you.

One way to combat this is to take the time each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Just five minutes a day to actively focus on what’s going well can help you feel more positive overall.

Share your gratitude

Make gratitude a habit. Start with being grateful for what you’re doing well and begin to deliberately look for what others are doing well. Thank them for the contribution they make to your team and make it specific. “You really handled that meeting very well. Great job at diffusing conflict between stakeholders,” is much better than a generic ‘Great job today.’

Remember, people want to feel valued for their contributions as an individual, and that what they do makes a difference.

Be the leader that notices and shows gratitude

You’ll be rewarded with happier, more motivated and more loyal staff.

Offer genuine gratitude

Of course, the benefits of happier and more motivated staff won’t appear if your gratitude isn’t genuine. People pick up very quickly on false praise and false gratitude, and so it doesn’t have the same effect.

This is where reflection and practising daily gratitude in your own life comes in really useful. When you take the time to actively look for what’s working well for you, you’ll also naturally start to see what others are doing well.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward #leadership Click To Tweet

Be consistent with your gratitude

Make sure that you’re offering specific and genuine feedback regularly. Incorporating daily gratitude reflection time can help you make gratitude a habit. It doesn’t have to take long.  Just a few minutes each day where you take the time to think of all the positives can make a huge difference.

When you have a reputation for being generous and heartfelt with your gratitude, people pay attention. Difficult conversations about performance become much easier when people feel that you notice what they do when they do a great job, as well as when they fall short.

Being grateful is an essential part of being a leader because it helps you focus on the positives in stressful times.

But for many senior leaders, gratitude doesn’t come naturally; it must be cultivated.

For more tips on gratitude and 9 more ideas for how to be a more effective leader, download my free checklist today.

Improve your performance as a leader
Download your free copy of ’10 steps to improve your performance at work’

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