How to Show Gratitude as a Leader


November is in full swing and with it comes the annual conversations around “gratitude”. With Thanksgiving at the end of the month, we’re used to using this month as a time to focus on what we have to be thankful for. However, as a strong leader, it’s important that you learn how to show gratitude all year long. If this is an area you struggle, these tips can help.

Obstacles to showing gratitude as a leader

You may feel like a grateful person in general. You may think you do a great job of expressing your appreciation for the people and things in your life, but it’s not what you think that matters in this situation.

Yes, having a heart of gratitude does wonders for our mental health and wellness, but that’s not what we’re focusing on in this article. We’re talking about the impact that your gratitude has on others. So, here are some obstacles that might be getting in your way without you even realizing it.

1. You’re busy

I’ve heard from many business leaders over the past month that it feels like the pace has picked up drastically. The end of the year is quickly approaching and there are likely a lot of things demanding your attention. When your thoughts are racing and you’re just trying to keep on top of everything, it’s easy to forget how you’re coming across to others.

While you may think you’re communicating gratitude, you might not be. When we’re overly busy it becomes really easy to come across as short-tempered even when we don’t mean to. This can be especially true when communicating through text and email.

2. You’re only focused on the end goal

It’s your job as the leader to focus on the big picture. That’s how things get done, right?

While that may be true, it can also make it challenging for you to see the small things that are getting done by your team every day moving the business closer to the end goal. The larger a company gets, the easier this becomes to happen. As you step out of the day-to-day tasks to manage the larger pieces of the business, it’s too easy to forget about all the work that’s being done that you don’t see anymore on a regular basis.

3. Only certain information makes it to your desk

As a leader in an organization, you’re not hearing everything that’s going on. It may feel like all you’re hearing about all day long are issues and challenges. If that’s the case, it’s easy to forget to be intentional about showing gratitude. You may feel like there isn’t a lot to be grateful for at the moment because it feels like everything is falling apart.

However, it’s important to remember that people are more likely to complain about a bad experience than to mention a good one. That means you’re probably not hearing all of the good things happening within your team including the many positive experiences your clients are having.

How to do better at showing gratitude as a leader

Those are just a few examples of why you may be struggling with gratitude. There are many other obstacles that could be getting in your way Take a moment to reflect on how you’re doing at showing gratitude as a leader. If you could use a little improvement or a lot of improvement, here are some tips that can help.

1. Be intentional about gratitude

It’s not enough when you have a busy schedule to think about showing gratitude more. You need to be intentional about it. It’s just like setting and working towards a goal.

You need to make time for it in your schedule. This could be as simple as setting aside the last 5 minutes of your day to write down some things you’re thankful for in your job. This helps you to keep a positive mindset around your work. It also helps you to identify areas where you can show your gratitude to others.

2. Track successes regularly

Part of the SPEAR process is tracking your daily successes. While this is helpful for growing into a more confident leader, it’s also a great way to improve at being a grateful leader. As you identify the successes of your team on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, it helps you identify areas you can mention to others.

If one of your successes only happened because of the work that someone else did as well, make sure you thank them for their contribution. And make sure you include them in the celebration of success.

3. Communicate clearly with your team

If you have children, you likely know how much they desire for you to recognize the good things they do. We’re all like that. We like for our good works and efforts to be recognized. This is true for your team as well.

Make sure you communicate with them on a regular basis to compliment them. It can be as simple as saying, “Thank you for your efforts with XYZ.” or “I appreciate you and your help.”

Don’t overthink how to communicate how grateful you are to your team.

4. Don’t forget about the support roles

There tend to be certain positions and people within each organization that are commonly recognized and thanked for their efforts. While that’s good, there are also others that tend to go unnoticed unless there is a problem. You don’t want your organization to run like this.

Each role within a company, including the support roles, is crucial to the success of the company. If you eliminate these overlooked roles, it will likely have a negative impact on the population, much like the wolf situation at Yellowstone. When wolves were removed, it had a negative impact on the entire ecosystem that was only corrected by bringing wolves back.

Look around your organization and try to identify those who are often overlooked. Don’t forget about the support roles like janitorial and facilities. When your facility is dirty and unmaintained, it brings down the moods of your employees and gives clients a poor impression of your company.

Every role serves an important purpose. Make sure you’re appreciating all of them and communicating that appreciation.

5. Be specific

The occasional blanket statement “thank you” is okay from time to time, but it’s more effective to be specific with your gratitude. Name who you’re grateful for and what they did. It’s important to be authentic about it. If you’re constantly just saying the words without really seeming like you mean it, your words will quickly lose their meaning to your staff.

6. Identify how your team likes to be thanked

How you go about this will differ based on the size of your team, but it’s helpful to get to know your employees and what’s important to them. Some employees appreciate gifts and bonuses while others appreciate thoughtful words. Some employees may appreciate a catered lunch while others would rather receive a sincere thank you note.

Learn what makes your employees feel appreciated and then put the effort into expressing gratitude in that way.

Continue growing stronger as a team and a leader

If you’re ready to continue growing your leadership skills and improving the way your team works together, reach out to a SPEARity business coach today.

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