Leadership Skills: The Importance of Gratitude, Not Just at Thanksgiving

writing a Thank You note, gratitude

As we said recently, reporting problems to the responsible sources is an excellent practice. It also opens the door to more powerful leadership skills.

To truly supercharge your self-concept and your rapport with others, you can take your potential one step further with this Leadership Gift practice:

Recognize everything that’s going well for you, appreciate its contribution, and acknowledge it to its source.

Every success you enjoy has at least three potential sources to recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge: your Maker, yourself, and other people.

When we recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge how our Maker contributes to our success, we tap into a field of potential infinitely larger than we could ever create by ourselves. We also recognize our lives as unique and precious gifts worth valuing.

When we recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge how our own actions and intentions contribute to our success, we gain phenomenal clarity about cause and effect over time.

This clarity enables us to focus and accomplish more faster, and feel like a winner. Better yet, we do it with less stress because we’re in power.

Think about it: we all want to win. (I define “winning” as intending to do something and doing it.) So to feel more like a winner, it really helps to clarify our intentions and then acknowledge when we’ve met them.

When we recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge how others contribute to our successes we increase both our connections and our rapport with them. Why? Remember our discussion last month about the integral relationship of rapport, closeness, frequency of communication and shared reality?

Have you ever not felt closer to someone who told you your actions caused happiness for them?

Increasing psychological closeness increases frequency of communication and builds shared reality. Acknowledging other people’s contributions to us helps our power expand and flow throughout the relationship.

To build your own gratitude practice, take these three steps:

  1. Choose one or more times everyday for personal reflection. During this time, ask yourself, “For what am I grateful today?” Write down everything that comes to mind — no matter how large or small.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “Who deserves acknowledgment for each of these things for which I am grateful?” Make notes!
  3. Then, acknowledge yourself when you have wins (i.e., when your intentions have been met). Acknowledge others for their actions to support your intention.

Get Started With This Week’s 5-Minute Leadership Gift Stretch

  • Reflect on your criteria for feeling gratitude: For you to recognize a contribution to your life, how massive, unique, or original does the action have to be? Would someone have to lay a lotto payoff on your doorstep for you to feel grateful? Or can you recognize small and ordinary contributions and be truly grateful for them?
  • Reflect on your ratio of potential vs. actual acknowledgment: Do you withhold appreciation for fear of vulnerability or connection? Or maybe to maintain control? Or, do you express appreciation to all who make contributions to you?
  • When you do acknowledge, do you “speak” truly from your heart? Or, is your expression an obligatory but not-completely-sincere gesture?

Take the time this fall season to really relish in the feeling of gratitude, not just for Thanksgiving. Learning how to be more aware of the things we are grateful for is a wonderful practice, in your personal life and your business affairs.

I wish you a world of productive relationships — and I welcome your comments and questions!

Want more integrity in your teams at work? You can claim it at Creating Results Based Teams. Or you might prefer Leading and Coaching People to Take Responsibility and Demonstrate Ownership. For maximum personal and professional impact, join the Leadership Gift Program. Christopher Avery, PhD , is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

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4 Responses to Leadership Skills: The Importance of Gratitude, Not Just at Thanksgiving

  1. Hello Mr. Avery,

    I am truly grateful for this post; however, I am unclear on how to apply a ratio of potential to actual acknowledgement.

    From your perspective what would be a good ratio? It is definitely a positive thing to identify as many appreciations as possible, but I think to many extended appreciations could result in a negative impact.

    Your post is a timely one for me, because I attended KeepAustinAgile last Friday and it was the first time I heard someone say that appreciations should be an important part of a team retrospective.

    I think appreciations is a powerful tool, but as a leader I would desire to strike an appropriate balance.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


    • christopher says:

      Hi Carl,

      You are welcome. Thanks for your question. It’s a good one: “how to apply a ratio of potential to actual acknowledgement.”

      Here’s one thought: Have your ratio approach 100% Don’t withhold any of your gratitude.

      Here’s another thought: This idea is dynamic, relational. It’s not mechanical. We’re not talking about the gear ratio in the rear end of a ’67 Chevy. It’s not a constant.

      Put these thoughts together and consider this: If you express 100% of a tiny bit of gratitude, you’ll be missing enormous opportunity.

      So the first step is to experience it. Buckminister Fuller taught me that 80% of communication is through the eyes. So if you are truly appreciative, your team will know and you won’t need to worry about any ratios.

  2. Lacee Thomas says:

    Great content! I couldn’t agree more with how far expressing your grattitude can get you. People like to be shown that you are thankful for the items they do that impact you, and that feeling of grattitude goes miles in building a solid report with them. I especially liked the steps you outlined above on how to build a “gratitude practice”, very simple yet super effective!

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