Grateful Leaders are Great Leaders
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What if you could improve your outlook and inspire your team by saying two small words. You can! What are these powerful words?
It’s easy to say thank you these days—a quick email, a short text. But, yet we don’t. We feel we’re too busy.
But showing gratitude meets a need humans share—self-actualization. We yearn to feel like we belong and are appreciated by others. We feel stuck if we do not feel this way. A leader who says “thank you” is a leader who engages his team and motivates them to do good work. Showing gratitude is positive reinforcement.
Two ways to amp up your gratitude attitude:
#1. Pay attention to yourself.
Be aware of what you have in life of which you should be grateful and renew that gratitude every day. Research shows gratitude not only makes us feel happier, it is a significant cause of positive outcomes.
#2. Pay attention to others.
People are drawn to you when you show appreciation and respect. Be aware of how you interact with others and how that affects your relationships.
Do you need to work on your gratitude? Try these easy practices.
- Track how many times you say “thank you” and how many times you don’t. Why didn’t you? Work to increase how many times you say those two words.
- Ask those closest to you how grateful they think you are. If you need work, ask how you can show your appreciation more.
- Identify three things daily you are grateful for. Write them down, tell a friend, or put it in your conscious.
Make counting your blessings and showing your appreciation a habit and you’ll promote a more positive outlook and become a more effective leader.
What gratitude practices might you suggest?
More about David Nielson:
David Nielson, CEO of DNA Worldwide, is a management consultant, executive coach and author of The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success.
These pratices of gratefulness are paramount for all effective teams.
Great reminder for us all in our busy lives. We should all take the few seconds to show our appreciation to others. The difference it makes far outweighs the time it takes.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanking those around you let’s them know that you appreciate the effort they made. It acknowledges their contributions to your team and lets them know what they do is important. Great message~
It’s a simple case of being mindful in one’s life. Being mindful allows you to see and act on opportunities when they present themselves.
Great simple words of wisdom
I have started an appreciation diary and already it is changing my life. Thank you for posting this blog. It is so easy in a dark place not to see what is going well or people,who are being supportive through the trauma. Saying ‘thank you’ marks the spot where the valley becomes less deep.
As a middle school administrator I see the need for this to encourage my staff but also for our students. Gratitude is contagious. As adults we may have gotten out of the habit of practicing gratitude for whatever reason, but we grew up knowing “please” and “thank you” were magic and expected words. That isn’t a natural assumption anymore. Let’s bring it back!
I have a lot of “thank-yous” to dole out…my first day back in the office in quite a bit and there are several members of the team that carried the ball while I was out. This is a timely reminder to me! I like to think I’ve been grateful and active in expressing it, but the reminder is appreciated all the same…thank YOU!
I absolutely love this site!!!
It seems easy to overlook expressing gratitude for the usual customary things folks are supposed to do anyway. Some think, “They only did what they were supposed to do…” But if you want that person to do it eagerly with some degree of satisfaction, a little appreciation goes a long way!
I completely needed this today. I know I feel grateful and think I express that, but without verification I don’t truly know. I had a mentor years ago that would tell me that “perception is reality”. I should verify that I am perceived that way.
Saying “thank you” and being specific about what you have seen or experienced that prompted those words is powerful. It changes the one offering the thanks as well as the one receiving it!
So simple but so powerful. I experienced this just this week with a couple of friends. When you Express that gratitude in genuine ways it becomes contagious.
I think I say thank you a lot but now I will be more aware of how important it is to Express that gratitude to my team and colleagues. Thanks for sharing.
I have a team of burly construction guys and it is amazing to see the reactions I get when I give them a handshake and a simple “Thank you” for a job well done
It’s much more comfortable to micromanage and effectively do a job yourself instead of allowing someone the authority to own a project, especially when you’re ultimately responsible for the results. My most recent challenge is the subbordinate not “owning” a project and I am forced to step in and take charge to prevent poor outcomes. We’ve started the councilling process making sure they understand the expectations but don’t seem to be getting much traction. It would be more convenient to do it myself but I’m determined to make this person successful. I just have to find the magic bullet,
Thank you, Dan. These posts are super helpful!
Thank YOU for sharing! I try to start my day reminding myself to look for the little things in others so that I can tell them thanks or give quick kudos during standup meeting.
Gratitude is a powerful virtue to cultivate in every aspect of our daily life. You can’t be angry, envious, jealous, or wanting when your grateful. More Gratitude in the workplace will transform the culture and take the organization to new levels. Gratitude silences a complaining voice. Leaders do well to cultivate this virtue, it is the parent of all others, (Cicero)
I had a supervisor who would also send a thank you email for work done. I really appreciated that he did this and it was so consistent I took notice of it. His email confirmed that he had in fact received me work, reviewed it and appreciated my efforts.
I developed an insert for my planner to write down a daily dose of gratitude. This approach keeps it in front of me and encourages reflection. Because it is simple, I tend to be more compliant. Then because I’ve been intentional about the act of gratitude, I can share the moment with others easier too!
Gratitude and disturbance cannot Coexist ! so practice gratitude whenever you feel less, disturbed etc.. Great post Dan.
Very cool. A concept I have been using for 25 years. It has served me well.
I try to write a quick thank you note to at least one person a day. I also try to take opportunities to thank my team publicly every chance I get.
Dan, Thank You for always being relevant on your postings !
We developed recently a Culture Greatnesses standard that states we will use “please” and “Thank you’s” with our interactions!
As you suggest it’s transformtional!!
Two main ingredients – Active listening and Be Grateful – reminding myself to train those two muscles to energize/revolutionize the world positively.
Thank you for the reminder to be grateful. Focusing on those around us keeps us aware of others and helps us stay humble. Telling people they are appreciated lets them know you see them, that what they do matters, and places the credit to where it really belongs.
This is spot on and doesn’t cost a dime, but has a tremendous impact.
It never hurts to say thank you. Kindness is the best cure.
Good stuff! I always enjoy your posts!
Personalized, blank thank you notes with envelopes sitting on my desk.
1-2 sentences and send it!
I started doing this a year ago and the text messages I get from others saying “thank you” to my thank you let me know that it meant to them more than the text I could have easily sent.
I totally agree. It takes so little from us to show gratitude, recognition and empathy but makes such a difference for everyone.
Thank Dan for all your postings. I look forward to reading them every day and I often share them with colleagues. I have suggested your blogs to many people. Short, to the point making it a quick read but with powerful messages! Love them.
Every quarter I have each of my region’s nominate a team member to be recognized as I believe that gratefulness as well as kindness matters. It takes 5 minutes to hand write a note to someone, the returns are worth it. The amazing part is 9 times out of 10 I receive a thank you back from the person, prolonging the cycle.
Reminds me of Max Dupree’s quote…
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say ‘thank you.’ In between, the leader is to be a servant.
Great reminder for those of us who tend to be more task oriented.
Great quote. Thanks for sharing it.
I don’t know why, but I’m shocked at how many managers don’t do these important book ends.
After completing projects I send thank you notes to my team. Many of them keep them on their desks and bulletins boards. This has been a testament to me of the power of the written thank you note.
Everyone in ever area of your life not just work likes to feel appreciated & it also validates them.
Kindness goes a long way and make a huge difference in a persons life. Being Grateful to start is always a strong track to humbleness. I have found myself drawn to these characteristics in people.
So very true! Two words that we hardly ever hear but need to be said!
It’s never too late to be a role-model for others. It may take time, and some people may not budge. But a sincere thank you where you tag on the specifics of what someone did and how it helped you does help brighten someone’s day.
You may also find that some people don’t know how to accept real appreciation.
Being grateful is very important! I’m learning this now as I’m 6 months into a job where my boss shows very little appreciation. As a result I’m overly grateful to my direct reports because I know how such a little thing make such a huge difference! Great article:)
Demonstrating your genuine appreciation for the work of others is one of the most value-added habits a leader can establish. So easy to do, and so easy to push aside…making the choice to choose gratitude is a daily practice.
A great conversation! Gratitude is expressed by saying thank you, showing appreciation, caring genuinely about a person show appreciation of that person. Looking a person in their eyes shows that you are engage with them and they matter in your conversation, listening to others shows you value them and appreciate their input and thoughts. Gratitude can be shown in so many ways that are much greater than thank you. Being present with another is showing gratitude. Thanks Dan!
Absolutely love the quote from Emerson! Sums up the entire post very nicely.
When I give out any raise, I hand write a thank you to the person and find something specific to thank them for in it. Additionally, when they do great things to help out customers, I will send out thank you’s to them. It is amazing how many thank yous I get back to my thank yous. People are extremely grateful and happy just to get a quick thank you and it is a quick boost to morale. It shows you have their back.
And do not forget birthdays! Such a simple way for people to know you appreciate them. It all comes down to habits. Form them and you will quickly find yourself doing these things consistently.
If you feel genuinely appreciated, you want to do more successfully.
Those 2 words are so important!!! Thanks for the reminder!!!
It’s interesting how our words can help or hurt and how two little words can really be so effective. As a team leader, I pay close attention to the pulse of the team and am known for my gratitude and generosity and fairness to team members and clients. Spread good! Thank you!
It’s such a simple thing! Thank you for the reminder to show more appreciation! Adding this to my to do list.
THANK YOU, David and Dan!
Great advice! People like to feel appreciated.
Gratitude goes a long way for both the receiver and the giver. It is also important to be genuine when sharing the gratitude as people know the difference.
In a leadership position, I make it a habit to say thank you often to the team. Their success supports my success which I turn supports the company’s success. It is to the staff I owe my gratitude, support, and thanks
I have discovered something about the moments when the words ‘thank you’, are spoken to me.
Simply and silently receive the acknowledgment.
When possible, Let ithe words just sit; and absorb their goodness. Don’t dilute the thankfulness, by speaking. Enjoy a few seconds of the ‘good medicine’ that thankfulness is, and show appreciation with a smile.
One simple way to start showing appreciation is a simple email. As a new leader in my organization, I make an effort to ALWAYS respond to an email, especially my team, with a quick “Thank You [name]”. It’s something that we usually overlook, and quite frankly, the team member usually doesn’t expect, but it only takes a second! I feel like I’ve built very strong trusting relationships in a short period of time by just showing my appreciation.
Love this site! Need to say Thank You on a daily basis so it is said without thinking about it. Something so simple but means the world to staff. Appreciation daily should be shown. Thank you for bringing this to my attention!
A gratitude journal is my 2019 new year resolution. Would love your book to support my efforts. Much thanks!
I work with all levels of my organization to instill an “attitude of gratitude” – the benefits to the culture cannot be underestimated!
It’s surprising how the smallest comment or expression of thanks and appreciation can impact the hole outlook for people we come in contact with. Try it! You can make someone’s day!
Thank you for helping us focus on this simple but powerful practice to make us more effective leaders.
I was just thinking about this very thing. I appreciate your reinforcement of my thoughts on this. I am a college Theatre professor and lead a diverse team of cast and crews. I try to instill this attitude of gratitude in our group.
The 1 thought that I will carry with me from this article is; “it’s easy to say thankyou…..but, yet we don’t. We think we’re too busy.”
I am intentional about expressing appreciation to those around me, but I know that there are many opportunities that I miss because ” I feel I am too busy!” I will strive to be more aware of those inclinations and express my thanks in the moment and not put it off till later. A little expression of thanks is better than none at all.
Going to send a couple “thank you” messages right now.
There are so many things we can be in this world, the least of which is to be grateful. Two of the most important words in the English language are “thank you” and they resonate with everyone.
So important. Working in Healthcare it can be a very high demanding thankless job some days and I’ve found people don’t necessarily want monetary value they want to be appreciated. When they feel appreciated, they feel part of a team and are happier and more willing to jump in and do extra when needed.
It’s tough not to want to look back and wish this skill (gratitude) that I’m starting to get better at in my wid 40’s is something I should have wanted to learn in my teens.
I try to “teach” this to my kids (teens). They hear my words, but I’m not sure it sinks in. lol
I realize I can’t change others, I can only change only myself. If someone doesn’t want to be grateful, I can’t force them to be. I can only put my gratefulness on display for them to witness.
Great article. I’ve got a decent list of coworkers to forward this one to. 🙂
Thank you for this post. I needed it.
Especially for younger colleagues, making their supervisors aware of something that the individual either took action on themselves or new skill that they mastered. I have found that, even in the worst situations, it can help alleviate some discouragement and see that rather than failing, it was an opportunity to learn something new or know that takinginitiative is encouraged.
Ahhh,..in a world of entitlement, gratitude is a wonderful thing. A “thank you” or you are doing a “great job” only takes a few seconds but the rewards are amazing!
This is a great post! It is amazing how much those two little words can do for building trust, improving a team and helping with development!
I was reading were “Chick Fil A” started training their workers to say “Thank you” and “please” to their customers and their sales have jumped far ahead of their competitors.
So respecting your clients speaks volumes.
This is such a good lesson for me. It is easier for me to emphasize the areas that need improvement without focusing on the good, and that trickles down. Following a morning routine like Tony Robbins’ is a good way to start with gratitude in mind!
Thanks for the great reminder. Busy schedules seldom leave room for kindness and gratitude…unless we are intentional!
Love your wisdom and transparency, always helpful!
I would like to learn
This is totally awesome! I used to be a 911 Supv and I am soooo well-tuned in on how folks should be treated. I am now a mortician; yes, from a First Responder to a Last Responder, for lack of better wording. In school, we were taught the ‘Golden Rule’ of treating others like we want to be treated. My Mom taught me to treat others ‘better’ than I want to be treated….I have found her philosophy works best in all areas of like I’ve walked.
Gratitude is the best way to become a great servant leader. Your tips and advise on leadership have made such a change in how I try and work as a volunteer on committees. Thank you! The last meeting I had as chair rocked. Everyone left empowered and ready to do there part. We all worked together. It was refreshing.
Gratitude makes a direct impact on everyone’s attitude. Well said and will lead to being humble and caring.
Gratefulness has to be genuine. I feel the expression, Thank you, should be part of our speech, from store clerks to co-workers we should notice and comment on work day tasks, not just going the extra mile. That should be worthy of special recognition.
Gratitude and kindness. If we could just take a little bit of time for both of these every day, the world would be so much brighter.
When saying Thank You, be specific for what you are saying Thank you for i.e.. “Thank you for the detailed project plan for the Johnson project” as opposed to “Thank you for the project plan”. A blind Thank you although appreciated, doesn’t carry as much weight.
Adding specifics to the Thank You shows you are engaged in the present.
I saw a post on this elsewhere and indicated to my spouse that I was going to order this book. I believe most of these things should be observed as common sense, but our own selves get in the way of allowing ourselves to embrace it.
A simple “good morning”, a nod of acknowledgement with a smile will always add to anyone’s day
This post is a simple reminder that the little things can mean everything … and just as importantly, ‘our words create our worlds’.
I practice gratitude daily and it has enriched my life in many ways. It is amazing how my interactions with others has grown and I am a much happier person because of it.
Thank you for inspiring us to do better.
Two little word that are so powerful
I set up a “Brag Board” at work. When I, or others, receive an email complimenting or thanking one of the members of our team, it goes up on the board for everyone to see.
Love the “Brag Board” expression!
Making the identification of things you are grateful for an intentional daily habit is so critical to increasing well-being.
I work hard to be grateful and thankful but I have one egg who is just tough to crack. I can’t seem to find the “right way” to express my gratitude.
So spot on, utilizing Thank You in all you do really does work to smooth over things and move efforts along in a more pleasant manner. What I tend to see is that some people are either so passionless or into themselves that even a Thank You does not matter or work. That’s one of my biggest challenges how to deal with those types.
Gratitude practices such as journaling every morning but making sure you indicate WHY you are grateful for that thing is important. Let’s practice: “I’m grateful for a great job and for having a leader that believes in me even when I have a hard time seeing the potential within myself. I’m grateful for that leader because he is stretching me to reach my true potential away from my comfort zone, I didn’t have that growing up but who says it’s too late to rise and reach for my dreams?”
Thank you! We all need reminders to show appreciation. It increases trust and the success of a team.
Appreciation goes along way.
I love the comment made in this thread about starting an appreciation journal. What a great idea to combine mindfulness with gratitude. By putting thought behind the things that we are appreciative for helps us to have the words to express that gratitude.
“Thank you” – two simple, yet powerful words. The difference it can make in someone’s day or even life is priceless. No matter what, it is important to show appreciation – treat others the way you want to be treated.
What you give is what you get!
Yes! I really appreciate the reminder to show gratitude. It’s too easy to only comment when things go wrong. We should always try to thank someone at least twice for every rebuke or concern.
The title of the post makes me think of one of the greatest leaders I ever had the opportunity to know, Dr. David Gibbs Jr. Dr. Gibbs was one of the most generous people I know and always expressed gratitude for the blessings he experienced. Would be blessed to read this book.
Sincere and meaningful gratitude – don’t do it just because you have to – do it because it is the right thing to do
If I hear a ‘fake it to you make it’ ‘thank you’ I’m going to regurgitate. I’ve heard too many faux managers pretend to care as they drive their buses over people they are saying ‘thank you’ too. “Thank you for a being a speed bump, it made me pause to think how I can manipulate you in getting what I want”. If you’re genuinely sincere, then you’ll have my loyalty for life.
What a wonderful reminder. Gratitude is often lacking in today’s world. I already thought of a simple way to add this into my routines with my staff! Thank you for bringing this to our consciousness!
Such a simple concept that is so effective in both work and in your home life….Always something to strive for!
Categorically agree! Gratitude is infectious. More so; I am honored to share my team made me a poster with the succinct words and overall statement. Positive Minds & Grateful Hearts. Inspire souls that produce winning actions. Gratitude ignites & captures greatness.
people who feel appreciated will always do more than is expected.
without gratitude people will can easily fall in to the trap of learned helplessness. “Why keep trying harder if it isn’t recognized”.
Gratitude can help us see the good in everyone around us. So many do so much without a kind word. It takes such little effort to change your day and theirs.
A simple but true lesson. We all benefit from the expressions of gratitude.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”
I’ve been working on keeping track of one thing I am grateful for daily and this year on Sundays I am writing a short journal entry of what I am grateful for from the prior week. Honestly some days have been hard which is telling of where my focus has been for that day.
Excellent reminder Dan. I especially like the notion of reflecting on what you are grateful for every night before falling asleep. It likely improves your sleep and feel more motivated when you wake up the next morning. The more you feel motivated and refreshed, the more likely you are to pass on your gratitude to others. Thank you for writing this post.
By passing less “crap” down (onto others).
Gratitude is a powerful tool we can all use. I keep a small journal by my bed and write down at least 5 things every night that I have been grateful for during the day. It brings a peace as I reflect on the good things in my life. I encourage others to do this too.
Gratitude is the attitude that impacts the altitude not the appitude!!!!!!!!
Again, a good reminder from Dan that the smallest effort can have such an impact on our teams. Take the time to allow ourselves to enjoy and be grateful for what we have, including each other.
I have consciously made this for practice last 10 years and it has been a life changing
It is important to be intentionally grateful.
I feel like too many leaders need to read this! Good post
A good reminder of the power of gratitude!
There is so much out there to be grateful for. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone practiced kindness without reward and gratitude more. I would love to read more about what you have to say on this subject to assist me in my personal and work lives.
I often say that please and thank you will never go out of style. Great advice.
This was a great post! So many times, we forget about all that we are blessed with, which allows us to become self-centered and narrow-minded. These are not good traits for a leader to have. Gratitude allows us to look outside of ourselves and look at others, which is exactly what a good leader should do!
Thanks for the reminder Dan! There’s a value to appreciating others, regardless of the perceived strengths or weaknesses of one’s team and team members. If anything, one learns a lot of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Simple gratitude with paramount results.
Entitled to Nothing, Grateful for Everything.
Thank you–Tom Dutkowski
Showing gratitude for even the simplest tasks performed can definitely go a long way in laying the groundwork for a teams willingness in accepting and accomplishing the most difficult future tasks. It’s not always easy to stop and smell the roses but certainly necessary!
An instructor once told our class to think of the persons who have made a great impression in our lives, as a mentor, a friend, a teacher. She asked, “Have you ever told them, thank you?” She asked all of us to send thank you letters to those individuals, some of whom may not even know. I too have to thank them now because, as you said, it may be too late. One of my mentors, a high school teacher, died last year, and I wished I had visited her one more time to say, “Thank you.”
Thanks for the advice
This is very thought provoking. Personally, I feel that saying thank you takes no time at all and people you thank really appreciate it. I make it a practice to say thank you.
I tell my leadership program participants to keep a file where they stash all of the thank-you emails and hand-written notes they get. When they are having a difficult day and begin to doubt themselves, going to their “Affirmation File” reminds them of the positive impact they are having on others. NOBODY throws away hand-written notes just because they are such a rare thing theses days.
I’d like to express my interest and feelings that I’ll become eligible to win a copy of the book, I hope to win it, I’m waiting to have it and start to read it, ready to implement the skills.
Thanks a lot to give us this opportunity.
Saying thank you is great and adding in a person touch like using the person’s name with it will add more power.
Thank you Dan for sharing David’s post.
I do agree that we ought to appreciate more life and the many people around us. Describing what is it that we are thankful for – really makes the TY gesture meaningful.
I got acccused of being ungrateful at my last job. I was really surprised by that. It was because I didn’t often say “thank you.” But I worked really hard and tried to show my gratefulness through hard work and trying to exceed expectations. I realized later that doesn’t always compute. Also, I had an upbringing that didn’t teach me how to show gratitude, so I have had to work to build that habit. It’s very important.
Thank you for sharing this post. It makes me slow down a bit so I can become more aware of myself and others.
I like to help those who’ve made a mistake realize as their leader I make mistakes too… it’s not the end of the world, we can likely find a silver lining and if not – then we’ve all learned something! Great read, thanks for the reminder 🙂
I try to express gratitude before the act of service has been completed.
This has to be one of the best reads in a while. It is hard sometimes to look at yourself and realize that “YOU” have to do something to help the change.
Thank you for sharing
2 very simple words with very powerful impact that cannot be overused! This is “Good Stuff”! Thanks for sharing…
I love this blog. Thanks for sharing!!!
I just now discovered your blog and I hope to continue developing my gratitude practice as well as leadership. Thank you for your article. I’m also interested in seeing what you have to say in your book! Dee
What a great insight, David, to focus on ourselves as well as others. Expressing gratitude with a simple and sincere “thank you” helps us to not think too highly of ourselves and to affirm the contributions, gifts, talents, and aspirations of those around us. When I realize that “it’s not about me,” I can be much more effective leader, mentor, and partner. Thank you for a great post! All the best.
Thanking someone is the easiest form of recognition. Adding “I appreciate what you do” leads to folks feeling like they actually make a difference in what happens. Sometimes it takes extra bit of effort, but it changes their attitude 1000 fold at times.
Those are such powerful words that make such a huge difference. And it’s easy to find something to thank someone throughout the day.
Hey Mealmaking Mommy: You can do it and help your children be grateful and show it. My wife and I have parented two; now adults 26 year old daughter and 24 year old son. How did we get them to see gratefulness and show it; we spent time with the from the beginning so that they could mirror what we did in terms of Gratefulness. Simple habits can rub off, how you look at challenges in life and difficulties and how you respond to them, talk to your children about it and how to respond to it, explain giving and being grateful and it will rub off.
I love everything about this – I am working on raising 3 children to be grateful – easier said than done, but it’s definitely a life skill!
“Thanks a lot for your kindness of heart…” Those are usually what I say to express my gratefulness for what another has done for me… thank you for instilling “Gratefulness” as one of the values for today…
Yes, gratitude is a habit that must be honed. it is an intentional effort.Blessings or good fortune (Whichever you align with) are so easy to overlook when we get comfortable.
You never know how far your kindness will reach or what changes it can bring. We never know the silent sorrow our students carry or how our kindness can lighten their burden.
Interesting. I’ll be glad to have one.
Wow, I remember how motivated I felt whenever a teamleader expressed gratitude to me. It was the best motivation ever. I certainly can use that with my own team now. Thank you so much for this
It is very easy to forget to be appreciative of your employees in a professional setting. This is a wonderful reminder of the wonderful effects of showing gratitude to others. this will be one of my new goals moving forward into the work place.