Gratitude in Leadership

Posted by Matt Berringer on November 26, 2014

Gratitude in LeadershipBy Ramiro Zuniga, Ed.D.

Here it is, November already. It is certainly the season to be thankful. This is also true in leadership. Isn’t showing gratitude common sense for leaders? Why should a leader show gratitude? And most importantly, how does a leader show gratitude?

Is Gratitude in Leadership Common Sense?
Many would think that showing gratitude in leadership should be common sense, however it really isn’t. Showing gratitude in leadership requires conscious and deliberate thought. At best, it is instinctive practice rather than common sense. There are many factors that can potentially interfere with gratitude in leadership. Leaders have to contend with numerous projects, assignments, deadlines, employee evaluations, and employee discipline issues. Any of these factors can overshadow attempted expression of gratitude. Any of these factors can also create a distraction for even the most seasoned leader.

Why show Gratitude?
When a leader shows gratitude, it helps create a positive atmosphere. The display of gratitude conveys the message that all is well and moving in a forward direction. The message also conveys confidence to employees that the forward direction is also a steady one.

An inspired employee is perhaps the greatest outcome of practiced gratitude in leadership. Everybody likes to be recognized for their individual contributions. This recognition can only lead to greater employee performance.

A secondary but very real benefit of practicing gratitude in leadership is the impact on a leader’s professional image. Employees across any organization will speak to each other about their respective supervisor’s leadership style. These conversations will not end at the water cooler. These conversations will eventually reach every corner and level of the organization. Leaders with positive images will be seen as more valuable to the organization.

How to Show Gratitude
It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. The following are some suggestions for how leaders can express their gratitude:

  1. Offering a simple, “thank you,” accompanied by a handshake
  2. Sending a private email expressing thanks
  3. Recognizing individuals during department meetings for going beyond the call of duty
  4. Passing along compliments received from others outside the department
  5. Being available to employees 24/7
  6. Showing a genuine concern for the personal challenges an employee is facing
  7. Respecting employee’s personal time. Do not contact employees during this time, except for emergencies.
  8. Limiting overtime
  9. Publicly giving credit to employees
  10. Buying lunch for employees
  11. Being consistent in expressing gratitude
  12. Being sincere
  13. Celebrating task completion, holidays, and birthdays

Keep in mind that failing to show gratitude can lead to catastrophic circumstances. Failure to show gratitude could result in lost production, loss of key employees, and overall low morale.

Topics: education, Leadership, K-12