Whether you’ve been thinking more about gratitude as Thanksgiving approaches or you’re thinking of ways you can improve your leadership skills in the year ahead, there’s no better time than the present to recognize the importance of gratitude in leadership.
Gratitude, the art of expressing appreciation, may seem simple but it can have a profound impact on any organization. Research reveals that leaders who embrace gratitude significantly influence workplace dynamics, profitability, productivity, and team cohesion. According to Forbes, employees are 134% more likely to stay in cultures in which leaders prioritize gratitude and may even forego a 10% raise for it. In such environments, companies may find a staggering 200% surge in satisfaction and loyalty.
Meanwhile, the repercussions of a gratitude deficit in the workplace can be significant, according to Fast Company. Low gratitude work environments can lead to employee burnout, absenteeism, and high turnover. Conversely, in a workplace built on a foundation of gratitude, leaders reported less aggression, heightened productivity, and increased employee engagement.
However, creating a culture of gratitude and becoming a grateful leader requires more than just an obligatory “thank you” here and there. Here are 10 ways leaders can practice gratitude this season.
1. Take Time to Self-Reflect
To overcome challenges in your professional or personal life through gratitude, start with a little self-reflection. Take time this holiday season to think about what you’re grateful for, who you’re grateful for, and why.
Don’t just think about your gratitude for others, though. What did you accomplish this year? Recognize your own efforts and show gratitude toward yourself, especially if you’ve made some tough decisions this year to give current you a better future.
2. Show Appreciation to Your Team Members
Once you identify the people for whom you feel most grateful, let them know. Infuse gratitude into team communication, normalizing expressions of personal appreciation within the team. When conveying appreciation, be deliberate, sincere, and specific. Instead of thanking someone for their “hard work,” for example, you might say, “Carmen, thank you for stepping up this past week while Meg is out. I genuinely appreciate your contributions to the team.”
3. Develop Gratitude Rituals in the Workplace
Try using the first five minutes of your team meetings to practice gratitude. These gratitude rituals don’t need to be complicated. They can be as simple as asking everyone in the meeting to mention something they’re grateful for at the start of the meeting. Alternatively, you could ask each member of the team to thank another team member by referencing something they did that you appreciated. At Arootah, we start our daily morning meetings off with a round of daily gratitude which sets the tone for the day.
4. Model Gratitude
If you’re not practicing gratitude at work, others will follow your example and ultimately create a culture of apathy. It’s essential to lead by example in your practice of gratitude. Even if employees don’t receive gratitude well, give them time. The positive effects on morale and productivity will help them get on board.
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5. Promote a Culture of Gratitude
Building an overarching culture of gratitude involves implementing gratitude rituals and integrating frequent positive feedback into conversations with others. You can create a culture of gratitude by physically displaying notes of gratitude around the office. You could even surprise your team with a spontaneous demonstration of gratitude to break up the monotony and keep the practice fresh.
6. Communicate Gratitude Even in Conflicts
When it comes to conflict resolution, gratitude can play a large role in helping team members reach a satisfactory conclusion. When de-escalating conflict, encourage all parties to show gratitude for anyone who disagrees with them, which can increase empathy and problem-solving skills.
7. Use Gratitude to Overcome Challenges
As you and your team begin to develop a culture of gratitude, you’ll find that this culture makes navigating challenges easier.
Studies have shown that gratitude increases optimism and makes individuals practice more generosity, forgiveness, and compassion. If these mental and social benefits aren’t sufficient in helping you overcome a challenge, just look at similar studies in which researchers indicate that gratitude also has specific physical benefits, including less pain, better-quality sleep, and a stronger immune system which can make overcoming a challenge easier.
8. Start Gratitude Journaling
Even if you take a few moments out of each morning to reflect on your gratitude, you may find that you lose sight of that gratitude when experiencing stress throughout the day. In these moments, continual gratitude journaling can be a game-changer.
By writing down what you’re grateful for as it pops into your mind, you can keep positivity at the front and center of your mind. You don’t need to write a lengthy journal entry or anything over the top; a line or two scribbled in an email draft will do.
9. Do Community Service
Community service in the workplace is a nice way to give back to others, while practicing gratitude among your teams. There are plenty of ways for teams to give back around the holiday season, so check in with your local nonprofits and charities to see what kind of volunteer opportunities are available to you.
If your team is particularly busy this time of year and doesn’t have availability for a day out of the office to volunteer, look for community service projects your team can complete that don’t require a time commitment, such as holding an in-office food or coat drive.
10. Create Stronger Bonds
Lastly, no matter what efforts you make to practice gratitude with your team this season, make sure they’re personal. Strong team bonds start with connection and there’s no better way to connect with others than by showing your appreciation for their contributions.
The Bottom Line
These 10 actionable strategies you can use to express gratitude as a leader will elevate your personal fulfillment, as well as your team’s morale and productivity. Remember, though, to practice gratitude within your team during not only Thanksgiving but the entire year.
Looking for more ways you can elevate your leadership in the New Year? Book a free consultation with an Arootah executive coach today to get started.