Pop the Cork on Positive Environments

Leaders who don’t express gratitude are small-hearted Grinches. It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself. You’re building negative environments.

Unexpressed gratitude is ungratefulness.

The only way to sustain gratitude is to express it. Withheld gratitude shrivels and dies.

unexpressed gratitude is ungratefulness.png

The challenge:

Leaders are make-it-better types. You’re looking to fix someone or something. You aren’t looking to be grateful. You migrate toward the negative. No wonder so many leaders frown all the time.

Positive environments:

What would you do if you weren’t always fixing and solving?

Walk into your next meeting chomping at the bit to express gratitude. Your perspective, attitude, and approach shifts from negative to positive.

Energy to fix problems comes from building on success.

When working on technical issues, focus on problems, solutions, and progress. When working with people, build on success.


Gratitude builds positive environments.

  1. Begin one-on-ones by expressing gratitude. Avoid the feedback sandwich. Let gratitude stand on it’s own.
  2. During one-on-ones, ask, “What’s happening in our organization that makes you thankful?” Send an email before the meeting to warn them about your gratitude question. You wouldn’t want to give anyone a heart attack.
  3. Begin team meetings by asking:
    • What are you thankful for?
    • Who are you thankful for? Why?
    • What praiseworthy behaviors are you seeing?
  4. Go on a gratitude walk-about every morning and afternoon. Put it on your calendar.
    • Look someone in the eye.
    • Name a praiseworthy behavior.
    • Say the magic words, “Thank you.”
    • Don’t say anything else. Just smile and walk away.
  5. Try these phrases, if “Thank you” feels worn out.
    • I’m proud to work with you.
    • You make us better when you…
    • You made a difference when you…

Expressing gratitude expands your heart.

Habitual gratitude might be too big of a challenge for some leaders. In that case, just stop talking.

How might leaders move toward habitual expressions of gratitude?