Gratitude as a Leadership Practice

Susan S Freeman Blog

gratefulThis week I had an opportunity to reflect about gratitude, both for my clients and for myself.  It was not an exceptional week, except for one thing; every single client took the time to acknowledge the positive impact our coaching work was having on them, professionally and personally.   I didn’t expect this, but am tremendously appreciative of the feedback.  It made me think about the impact of gratitude for leaders.    

How often are you feeling and being grateful?

Gratitude can be a gateway into transforming a mindset that has become stale.  Do you have a leadership mindset that could benefit from a new approach?  For example, what is your mindset around employees?

Having employees is a big responsibility. Your natural mindset might be that having employees is challenging. Having other people’s livelihoods depend on you is significant.  Yet aren’t employees also the force that supports our ability to do our work in the world?

GratitudeHave you felt gratitude for your employees? 

Have you communicated it to them?

When we focus only on the responsibility part, our thoughts (and ultimately our behaviors) reflect the emphasis on how challenging it is to have employees.

But what if you could shift your mindset from challenge to gratitude? What if it were really possible and easily attainable?   You could move from thinking about employees and feeling RESPONSIBLE to FEELING gratitude for them?  Having appreciation for their contributions and loyalty?  Acknowledging that sometimes they see your leadership as being bigger than even you do?  What is possible now?

A coaching session provided a client this opportunity to make that mindset shift.  A ready client shows the willingness to learn new ways, including letting go of habits that are not serving him. Working through a guided experiential exercise in coaching helped him experience the impact of changing his mindset with mind, body and spirit.

Gratitude welled up inside, creating a transformational moment for him.

Another client identified the absence of gratitude as a problem for some folks on his team.  He had become more aware of its importance for himself, and wanted to do something about it in the workplace.    He chose to use a whiteboard outside his office as a community space for this purpose.    He posted the question: “What are you grateful for today?”

There was no announcement, no suggestion to answer the question on the whiteboard, yet, one by one, each employee wrote something…

  • My family…
  • My paycheck…
  • My health…

And an office mindset began to shift…

Gratitude can be a gateway into transforming a mindset that has become stale.  When we as leaders and as employees focus only on the responsibility part of our careers, the “why” of what we do can get lost.  Our thoughts (and ultimately our behaviors) are impacted.

Are you yourself demonstrating your gratitude as a leader? 

Take a moment to create your own “aha” leadership gratitude moment and write it on the Step Up Leader community “whiteboard”.   In gratitude.

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