Many traits are associated with strong leaders. They’re confident, they’re passionate and they’re decisive.
But one critical leadership characteristic that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is “gratitude” – letting employees know that their hard work is appreciated.
In other words, the best leaders know how to say, “Thank you.” They also realize that, to truly show gratitude to others, they need to take time to be grateful for themselves and for where they are today. From there, the gratitude emanates out to the others around them, making the entire organization stronger in the process.
“The power of any organization is the collective energy of the people,” says Brad Deutser, president of Deutser LLC (www.deutser.com), a culture consultancy that advises leaders and organizations facing transition, growth or crisis.
“Strong leaders recognize that it’s their people who form the soul of the company and who are directly responsible for the success of the organization, and often the leader.”
When employees feel that they’re working for a leader who is engaged and is thankful for their efforts, he says, it creates a better environment and instills loyalty. And, it drives performance inside and outside the company.
“If you don’t take the time to thank people and appreciate people, I think you’re missing the greatest opportunity to connect with them,” Deutser says. “People respond to it and it makes the work that much more meaningful to them and that much more impactful to you. It’s one of the best motivators and it just plain makes them happy.”
And when employees are happier, that can lead to even greater productivity. Shawn Achor, acclaimed Harvard researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage, has demonstrated through his research that when people work with a positive mindset they perform better in the face of a challenge and every business outcome improves.
Deutser says a few things worth knowing about gratitude and its effect on an organization’s culture include:
• Authenticity is essential. People aren’t easily fooled by insincerity. Gratitude is something leaders need to really feel, not just be feigning because they’ve been told it’s important. “If your gratitude doesn’t come across as real or if it’s not founded in something you truly are grateful for, then the inauthenticity shows through,” Deutser says.
• Gratitude is a big perspective shifter. When the boss routinely expresses gratitude, employees are inspired to take challenging situations and reframe them in a way that reminds them something positive and good comes from them. “It’s about creating positive energy,” Deutser says. “It’s about creating a positive workforce. And, it’s about understanding the direct correlation between positivity and performance.”
• Your willingness to show gratitude can rub off on others. “Gratitude is very contagious,” Deutser says. “When people in an organization see their leader doing it, then you’ll find that they will follow along and that makes your organization’s culture even more positive. We live in a world where we’re bombarded with negativity. And when you inject gratitude, being grateful for what is good, for what is pure, for what is true, for what is real, for what is right, you’re able to change the environment.”
“At the end of the day, the more appreciated people feel the more willing they are to do a great job the next time,” Deutser says. “I don’t care who you are, you like being told you’ve done well and that you’re appreciated. That goes for the leader, too.”
About Brad Deutser
Brad Deutser is president of Deutser LLC (www.deutser.com), a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity, especially in times of transition, growth or crisis. He is an expert at leveraging culture to drive business performance, and his firm has counseled organizations ranging from the Fortune 100 to nonprofits. Deutser launched his firm in 2002.
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