How gratitude can make you a better leader

They say it isn’t happy people who are thankful but thankful people who are happy, so why not apply that to your career?
With Thanksgiving just behind us and more holidays quickly heading our way, this is the time of year we reflect on the nature of gratitude. But why do we only focus on thankfulness for one Thursday in November when we should be showing gratitude in all things throughout the year?
As a business leader you may not think about how gratitude plays into your ability to motivate your team and spearhead successful projects, but these things go hand-in-hand.
How to create a culture of gratitude
The primary reason to be a more thankful leader within your organization is to create a culture where everyone is grateful. Simply saying the words, “thank you,” will help boost morale and encourage everyone from employees to clients to be more fulfilled in their work. Why? Because the culture-at-large has practically abandoned gratitude in the workplace. An employee is expected to do the job they were hired to perform, so why would a manager thank them for doing what was asked? But you’ll be surprised by the results when you begin offering your thanks daily.
Other ways to encourage gratitude in your business include:

  • Sending thank you cards to your employee’s home.
  • Encouraging your staff to pay it forward.
  • Leading by example.

A gracious leader is a strong leader
The most important lesson is to learn that gratitude starts with you. When you are gracious enough to understand that you couldn’t be a leader without strong, skilled people to lead, you no longer take their contributions for granted. Humility is something that even the most successful leaders need to embrace.
Being humble is not a weakness in business, even though many leaders have become successful because of their confidence. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Employees who recognize that their managers are humble and gracious are more likely to experience job satisfaction than their counterparts that are managed by aggressive, authoritarian leaders.
The trick is, the people you work with don’t need grand gestures. They just want your gratitude to be genuine and heartfelt. If they feel that you’re simply going through the motions, your actions won’t be recognized as gratitude but rather as something you read in a leadership handbook and are implementing to see what happens.
Give yourself permission, and by extension, your staff, to accept and provide feedback whenever necessary. If the only feedback you give is negative in nature, or corrective, your team will begin to feel a sense of dread whenever you ask to speak with them. So liberally express positive feedback along with your gratitude as well. This will make constructive criticisms much easier to handle when they are needed.

Just remember, in your personal interactions you’re much more drawn to those who are open, gracious and thankful. The same is, and should be, true of your professional relationships.

DeLores Pressley, is a motivational speaker, international keynote speaker, author, confidence coach and the CEO of DeLores Pressley Worldwide and Founder of UP Woman; a movement to empower women leaders. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a courageous life.
She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life,” “Believe in the Power of You” and “EMPOWER.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at (330) 649-9809 or visit her site at