Why adopting an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is important for your development as a leader of character

A leader of character is a grateful person who always takes the time to express thanks for a job well done.

Gratitude is an area of research that has been growing in interest significantly in recent years. As psychologists elbow their way into this field, we are learning that not all effects of gratitude are universally positive. Indeed, gratitude has been said to generate feelings of humility, obligation, indebtedness and guilt (e.g. Morgan, 2014). Whilst acknowledging this important caveat, within the context of this post we are referring to the positive impacts of gratitude in organisational life. Something that appears to be in short supply from work that we have done on the topic. 

Gratitude comes in many forms. Whilst I am truly grateful for having enjoyed a wonderful life, family, etc. etc. thus far, I do not give daily thanks for it. Perhaps I should. The research suggests that being truly thankful as a generalised way of living, i.e. a trait, has been shown to be an excellent way to provide yourself with improved wellness and health. Gratitude, when genuinely done, provides significant positives for you. 

A key idea here is that your gratitude needs to be genuine. If you finish with this post and adopt a deeply thankful approach in all areas of your life but which only lasts for the next 48 hours, I’m not convinced it will make that much difference. Begin to see the positives in events and situations that you may have been taking for granted and adopt that approach in the long-term and who knows what benefits might accrue!

Unconditional gratitude

You know the concept of unconditional love? It’s the sort of thing that an effective parent gives to their child. The idea is not to provide love in return for something e.g. good school grades, but unconditional love is unshakable, regardless of what a child does. Likewise, being grateful unconditionally is where you will make the most gains for you and for others. Avoid using gratitude in the following ways: 

1. Only when someone has delivered for you

2. Only when you want something from someone else

3. Only when you remember

4. For some people in your team and not others

5. As a way to make people feel indebted to you

Do Now:   

1. Review all the areas of your life for which you could/should be grateful 
2. Find a way to review all those you lead and work alongside. Are there times you could           have shown more genuine gratitude for their support? Make things right the next time
3. Check yourself: When are you being grateful conditionally … oh yes! At times you are!           Begin to weed these out of how you influence people. Replace conditional gratitude with         something else and if you can’t think of something you will be better of not doing anything     at all. We can all spot a fake! 

At Performance Edge Partners Ltd we are very grateful that you have taken time to read about some of our ideas on this blog - thank you. If you would like us to come and help your organisation grow outstanding leaders we would be very thankful for that too ;-)) Just contact us here. 

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John Lewis
Little Hearts Matter