“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I am once again reminded of the critical role that gratitude plays in leadership. By practicing gratitude every day and all year long, you not only enhance your own personal and professional fulfillment, but you uplift others and build a stronger more cohesive team.
Gratitude makes you remember what is truly important. It allows you not to spend too much time on the immediate wrinkle or problem, but pivot to see the bigger picture. When we practice gratitude, we look at all things—from successes to failures and everything in between–with a clearer perspective. We appreciate the wins a little more and don’t take the failures so hard.
Being grateful makes us happy. It can transform your perspective and help change your outlook on the way you lead. In fact, studies have shown that individuals who are grateful and actively practice gratitude, are happier. They also project that happiness, which in turn, attracts others towards them. You are also able to draw on the well of positive feeling that comes with gratitude when times get tough.
Above all else, gratitude is integral to building a team. Being grateful fundamentally means you understand that others helped you get where you are. It also reinforces the need to rely on others—that teamwork makes the dream work. And thus, practicing gratitude and recognizing the contributions of others is a critical step in building loyalty, respect, and trust.
Who doesn’t want to be on a team with someone who recognizes (and recognizes publicly) their contribution? Who doesn’t want to go that extra mile for someone who values their hard work and dedication? Finally, gratitude tends to diffuse negativity. When you model gratitude within your team, folks are much more likely to be positive and not give in to jealousy or play games.
How then do you express your gratitude to your team? What do you do to recognize those around you and the contributions they make? Think about it and begin to put it into practice. Make gratitude a habit all year long. Each week think about one or two things you are grateful for and two people who helped get you there and tell them. Set up five minutes each day—at the beginning or end—to reflect on the things and people for whom you are grateful. Celebrate the wins and share them with others. Take the time to appreciate all that has gone well, just as you are likely to reflect on areas of improvement. Not only does gratitude make us happier, it motivates us all to do better.