Why Gratitude is an Effective Leadership Skill

This holiday season, it’s important to express gratitude to those around us: those who help us out, make us smile, or even provide some measure of comfort during these difficult times. Gratitude is proven to be beneficial to your physical and mental well-being. It can also help make you a better leader. Here’s how expressions of gratitude can help your interactions with both employees and customers.

Ways to Express Gratitude and Show Employee Appreciation

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Unfortunately, it’s not always a common feeling in the workplace. Employees pour their hearts and souls into a company. It’s up to leadership to recognize this effort and to show it with expressions of appreciation. This one action can increase employee satisfaction, as well as raise productivity. 

Expressing gratitude regularly to your employees can go a long way toward improving both their attitudes and their job performance. Show them that you genuinely appreciate the efforts they make. Praise them for their contributions, and celebrate their successes. Studies have shown this not only improves attitudes; it also reduces turnover

The best way to express gratitude to an employee is in the moment. You see that they’ve done a good job, and you tell them that you appreciate it. However, genuine gratitude goes beyond that. It would help if you did more than tell employees you appreciate them; showing them can go a long way. 

Take a few moments to write a note to an employee for whom you’re grateful, and tell them exactly why. Do it with pen and paper, rather than e-mail, so they have a physical token of your gratitude.

Be sure to show your appreciation to all your employees, not just the “best” ones. If you only single out a few, it can look like you are playing favorites, which may lead to resentment among your team. New or veteran, strong or weak, every employee has something useful that you can acknowledge and single out for praise.

There are also ways to express your gratitude to your entire staff at once. Throw them a party. Hand out bonuses. Buy them lunch. Public recognition. Even small gestures go a long way towards showing your gratitude but keep something in mind as you create an environment of gratitude and appreciation. 

Being disingenuous by acknowledging people in a way that makes them feel you are just going through the motions of ticking the columns in the “appreciation box” or exaggerating the level of appreciation you’re feeling will sometimes backfire and create more harm than good. Rather than give a canned “thanks,” call out exactly what it was that someone accomplished and the value their action had on the outcome. This tact will prevent you from being too general in your expression and let the person being acknowledged know that you are paying attention and taking note of their behaviors and actions. 

Gratitude Towards Customers

Just as your employees like to be appreciated, your customers do too. And expressing your gratitude for their loyalty goes a long way towards getting their repeat business. 

The holiday season presents several great opportunities for customer appreciation. Send out holiday greetings by mail or e-mail. Not an advertisement or sales pitch, just an expression of gratitude and a wish for good cheer. If you can, make it personal to show that they’re more than just a number on a piece of paper. You can also send out special discounts, bonus gifts with purchase, and other exclusive extras. Your customers will see that you care and be more likely to come back. And also, never forget the gift of excellent listening skills. For customers, this is the one gift that never stops giving all year long.

Gratitude Turned Inwards

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year of challenges in a variety of ways. Most people on planet Earth have faced obstacles never before faced and may never again. But how do we stay grounded and focused without caving to the stress of what 2020 has brought us? By reclaiming our sense of self and re-evaluating what we have. To do this, we must look inwards and intentionally make the decision to look for ways to bring gratitude to light for ourselves and those around us. Feelings of gratitude create a chemical reaction in the body that lightens our mental load and allows us to decompress. Why is this important? This chemical reaction is hormonal and one that reduces not only mental but physical conditions deemed unhealthy when in place for extended periods. 

For people in leadership, it’s essential to emulate a persona of appreciation and gratitude. It sets the stage for those who follow your leadership and shows them that these meaningful expressions are how you want to be perceived and how you want them to be perceived. 

Gratitude is an important part of life—and one that can be easily overlooked in the business world. By taking the time to express gratitude, you can become a better, more effective leader and improve your business in a host of different ways. Isn’t that something to be grateful for in all aspects of life?