Gratitude is a Powerful Leadership Skill

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The world would be a better place if we could all live with more of an attitude of gratitude. We would feel better about ourselves. Relationships between people would be stronger. Gratitude matters to everyone, and it’s especially important for leaders. Small business owners stay grounded and see the world from a more positive perspective when they are grateful. Although they still have challenges, they have an easier time turning those challenges into opportunities because they have a gratitude mindset. 

The Many Benefits of Gratitude

As a business owner, you’re in a position to influence the wellbeing of the many people you interact with daily, including your own team members. Expressing genuine appreciation is good for you, your team and your business. Research undoubtedly backs this up. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and bestselling mental strength author, makes this clear in her Forbes article. She outlines scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, including improved physical health, mental strength, and self-esteem. She also shows that gratitude opens the door to more relationships, enhances empathy and reduces aggression. 

An American Psychological Association (APA) survey looked more specifically at the workplace and found that employees were more likely to report better physical and mental health if they felt valued. 93 percent of employees who reported feeling valued expressed motivation to do their best at work and 88 percent said they felt engaged. Only about a third of employees who did not feel valued reported high levels of motivation and engagement at work. Recognizing your team members for their contributions and showing gratitude for them is a very simple and effective way to help ensure they feel valued.

Practicing Gratitude

I’ve had to work on my gratitude practice. When it comes to writing notes, for example, I break it down into more manageable pieces. Maybe I’ll do five a day instead of trying to knock them all out at once. I'm much better about doing it now because I’ve been intentional about practicing gratitude. There’s always room for improvement and you can develop a better attitude of gratitude too.

  1. Create a simple gratitude practice. There are so many personal benefits when you reflect on what you’re grateful for, and the gratitude comes more naturally to you with practice. Once you start seeing from the perspective of gratitude it becomes easier and easier to recognize what you are grateful for. For me, a simple gratitude practice is identifying three small things I’m grateful for every day and writing it down. All it takes is a simple notebook or journal, something physical, and setting aside a few minutes for reflection each day. 
  2. Be intentional about giving and receiving gratitude in the moment. As a business owner and leader, you set the tone at work. If you notice somebody doing something that you appreciate, tell them. Let them know if something they did was helpful or opened up new opportunities for the company. Thank team members in the moment. And when somebody expresses thanks to you, make sure you have a gracious response. Don’t discount it or be dismissive. It sends the wrong message and destroys the cultural benefit of gratitude in your business. When somebody thanks us for something, we have this bad habit of saying “oh, it was nothing” or something along those lines. If they're taking the time to thank you for it, it was something to them. Be gracious by saying “I’m so glad it was meaningful for you” or whatever words you want to use.  
  3. Take your gratitude to the next level. A verbal “thank you” in the moment is valuable. Calling out a team member’s contribution publicly and following up with a handwritten note takes it to the next level. There are many leaders who have a practice of intentionally writing thank you notes to team members. They are always looking for that reason to thank the next person to make sure everybody is being recognized for their contributions. If you have an internal or external company newsletter, leverage it to put your gratitude for your employees out there in front of people.

I work with my clients to ensure they are working in their energizers, which fuels their passion for their business and their gratitude for doing what they love. When they have clarity around what work they should be doing, they can build the team they need for the other tasks and empower those people to also work in their energizers. Expressing gratitude builds trust, which builds up your ability to work in your energizers and your confidence leaning into that space. When employees feel genuinely appreciated, they’re more engaged and motivated to do their best work. Gratitude fosters loyalty and a shared commitment to the goals of the business. Everybody on the team knows their work matters and they’ll want to work together to make the business vision a reality. 

The Inflection Point Hub 

The Inflection Point Hub is a group of small, but mighty, businesses owners positioned for intentional growth. Jeff Heyer-Jones, president of SparkEvolve, and I are building this peer advisory community to bring those small business owners together. With the right people in your corner, you can explore your own leadership, work through challenges and implement the necessary systems to reach your future goals. You can structure and staff your business so you can do the things you’re best at. You can build a culture in your company where everybody is expected to be in the space where they're energized the majority of the time and feels appreciated for their contribution. If you’re ready to grow your business and yourself through access to a cohort of like-minded people and curated experts and resources, The Inflection Point Hub is for you. Learn more about what you'll get with your membership and secure your spot today.

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