Being an effective leader requires us to connect with our people. In order to connect with our people we need to effectively communicate, collaborate and support each other. In order to support each other we need to understand the sacrifices that each of our team members make to enable us to succeed. Do they stay after hours to complete the last task, do they finalise the report required on Monday, at home on Sunday or do they attend client events in the evenings? Regardless of how they contribute above and beyond, they are actually sacrificing time with their families and friends to contribute to the team’s success. We as leaders, need to demonstrate our gratitude for the sacrifices our team members make.
I was reminded of the need for leaders to show their gratitude as I read an article by Michael Ray Hopkin titled How Gratitude Expands Leadership. The article reminds the reader of the sacrifices that members of the Armed forces (both past and present) have made to defend our way of life. Fortunately, as a society, we have found ways to show our gratitude. We have created traditions that enable us to regularly demonstrate our gratitude to those that have made many sacrifices (and in many cases paid the ultimate price) to defend our country and our quality of life. We have found ways to say thank you.
While today’s busy business environment does not compare to the horrors of war, we often forget to take the time to recognise the sacrifices that our team members make to support the success of the team. Most importantly, we often forget to take time to show our gratitude for those sacrifices. This can be as simple as saying thank you or bringing in cake for morning tea. Showing gratitude is not only an act that can help us become more centred and connected, it can also help us find strength in the more challenging situations which in turn helps strengthen the quality of our leadership.
- Gratitude can help your team succeed. In a team environment, there is no success without collaboration. Show others you are grateful for their efforts and for their contributions. This simple act will often encourage them to go that extra mile.
- Gratitude can create new opportunities. By showing appreciation, it is likely to draw the attention of other leaders – building your network and ultimately building your success.
- Gratitude creates a peaceful environment. Taking the time to focus on and be thankful for your blessings can create a sense of inner harmony, which enables you to focus more clearly on pursuing your goals.
- Gratitude is trust-building. By showing gratitude to your team, you will earn their trust in you as a leader and this will continue to grow as you continue to show your appreciation of their sacrifices.
Max De Pree said ‘Our first responsibility as a leader is to define reality, while our last responsibility is to say thank you. And in between the leader is a servant’. So making an effort to practice gratitude every day, at both work and at home, will surely reap enormous rewards and will help deepen your connection with others resulting in better leadership outcomes.