Admittedly, my first attempt to transport the topic of gratitude into a business context was not exactly what one would commonly call a “walk in the park”.
The reactions of the (mainly male) participants ranged from incredulous amazement to audible gnashing of teeth and disparaging shaking of the head. But 20 minutes later this phase was overcome. How did this happen? In this blog I describe three ways to integrate gratitude into your everyday leadership life.
Even though numerous studies have already proven the effect of gratitude on the performance of employees, I would still like to mention the core statements here:
Gratitude invariably triggers positive emotions. They are the only infinitely available fertilizer that allows employees to flourish - regardless of gender, culture, education or hierarchy. And gratitude works reciprocally. Those who express gratitude will also receive gratitude. Point.
With gratitude it is unfortunately like with feedback. Both cost nothing and, despite their undisputed and consistently positive effect on commitment, loyalty, creativity and cooperation, are shamefully omitted. Often, this is done for fear of possible, uncontrollable emotions of the counterpart alone. In my opinion, this says more about the sender than about the recipient. And it forces one to ask whether leaders can also be grateful to themselves. But let’s not go that way now. So do you integrate gratitude into your daily routines as a leader?
Option 1: Sharpen your radar
A cautious way would be to become clear to yourself on a weekly basis about what you were/are thankful about. The “Gratitude Journal” helps some leaders. Just use the note app on your smartphone. Every Friday at 17:15 you write down your observations. And ask yourself if the list really can’t be any longer. No matter how you proceed, this way makes you aware of the topic without the need to express yourself to third parties. Seems safe, seems feasible, doesn’t it? Good. So what are you grateful of that happened last week?
Option 2: Become a joyful ambassador
The first stage of interaction are personal “visits” to employees to whom you are grateful for whatever reason. But beware: gratitude refers much less (or not at all) to an achievement but much more to a person’s (unexpected) behaviour at a specific moment that helped sustain or master a situation. And by making these visits, you will also notice whether you are always visiting the same people. So: with whom do you seldom stand at the desk and why is this? Are your reasons really fair?
Option3: Be serious
At the second stage of the interaction, you formulate your gratitude in handwriting. You then send off your card. The effect of this card is enormous. You probably think I have to say that now. Fair enough. Then test this stage in a familiar environment: write a few lines to your partner, your wife, your children, your parents, your siblings. Even if you expect one or the other reaction in advance, you will still be surprised. Guaranteed. And then you will feel for yourself how gratitude works reciprocally.
Now I don’t want to bend you in any way and encourage you to do things that you think don’t suit you. Don’t worry. I hear this excuse at least twenty times in the course of a workshop. And in follow-up sessions it turns out that everyone – without any exception – had only positive experiences. And not only because they surprised other people with something “new”. But even repeated expression of gratitude will not dilute its effect.
Be grateful that you can expand your leadership repertoire with gratitude. This gives you and your employees easier access to each other, especially in rather rough times. It will allow all of your team to act, create and cooperate more comprehensively. Isn’t that what you want? Exactly.
Gratitude is a very effective and simple management tool. Therefore it is an important element in my book Führen mit der T.I.G.E.R.-Methode© (german).