Everyone seems to have a secret recipe to generate leadership success. What if the magical ingredient was actually just a character trait you were taught as a small child?
The Most Important Words a Leader Can Say
As a leader, there are phrases that seem to be used over and over.
- You’re hired.
- You’re fired.
- How did this happen?
- Can it be fixed?
- What’s the profit margin?
Noticeably missing, however, is one of the most important phrases that a leader can say, one that can transform a company completely.
The phrase? Thank you.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Truly successful (and wise) leaders understand that without others, their success would be limited. Whether it is early investors at startup, employees who go the extra mile, or clients who refer others, great leaders know that business is rarely a one-man show.
But are there benefits to being grateful? Is there notable success for businesses that cultivate gratitude verses those that don’t?
What benefits does showing gratitude offer?
Being grateful helps keep life in its proper perspective. When a leader walks in gratitude, the attitude prevents a tunnel vision effect of only focusing on things that have gone wrong.
Gratitude also helps prevent the equally dangerous trap of self-absorption.
Showing gratitude can actually increase energy levels. A leader that is focused on gratitude tends to be more positive, and as a result, has more energy to work.
Remembering to be thankful can lead to better health, more fulfilling relationships, and less stress.
Let’s face it—everyone likes to be appreciated. When a leader shows gratitude, it strengthens existing relationships. It creates feelings of goodwill that can lead to loyalty and appreciation.
Being a leader is hard work. While it can be rewarding, there are times when the days can seem long and it feels easier to give up.
By keeping focus on the things to be grateful for, a leader can endure even the long days, knowing that the journey will get better.
Ways to Show Gratitude
With just a few of the benefits of gratitude in mind, what are some practical ways a leader can show that they’re thankful to the people in their organization?
Verbal communication of your appreciation is important. Taking the time to address the person you are thankful for can be powerful. Recipients will appreciate the fact that you set aside a moment to talk to them, and hearing someone express their thanks can be motivating and compelling.
While hearing the words, “thank you,” is important, it is equally important to have them in writing. It’s tempting to type out a quick ‘Thanks a lot!’ email and consider it done. Resist the urge to use technology for this. A personal, handwritten note leaves a lasting impression and conveys the appreciation that you feel in a tangible way.
A great way to honor someone’s efforts is to pay it forward in their name. Make a donation to a favorite charity of theirs, and let them know it was as thanks for their service.
Depending on the scope of their service, it is not always feasible to present someone with a plaque engraved with their name. Although this is a nice way to commemorate someone’s efforts, it isn’t always necessary or appropriate. Small tokens of appreciation can be just as meaningful though, even a candy bar with a simple note of, “Thanks!” is an easy and effective way to show gratitude.
Most of the time, gratitude is best expressed in private. At appropriate times, however, a public display of appreciation can be effective. Did the employee give 20 years of service to the company? Make a big deal of it! Did someone work over the weekend to finish a proposal? Send them a note and a gift card for coffee. Finding the balance between what should be publicly lauded and what should be handled individually may take some practice, but an over-abundance of gratitude is never a bad thing!
Gratitude is a powerful practice that leaders can use to improve their own life and the overall health of their company.
Employees who feel appreciated are more satisfied with their jobs and as a result, work harder. Customers who feel appreciated show loyalty by continuing to do business with a company that values them.
Give gratitude a try. Your new attitude will be well received, I promise!
Who can you thank today?