Gratitude and leadership

“What to hell is gratitude,” our newcomer quipped sarcastically. Her honesty was refreshing and made me laugh. That was the topic for the group discussion so everyone took 5 minutes to share their personal experience of how they apply gratitude to their lives and relationships. This is how group recovery works.

It’s helps to treat gratitude as a discipline. And it needs to be practiced, even when one may not feel it in the moment. We can be trained on it, like any other discipline. Gratitude includes acknowledging, affirming and being grateful for what’s in your own life, and being grateful for other people too. It’s similar to celebrating, honoring, validating and lifting others up. One of my mentors regularly says, “no-one should ever be surprised about where they stand with you.”

Some of us use this leadership skill quite naturally. Some of us need more training in it. To some, like my recovery acquaintance above, it’s a completely foreign concept and needs to be explained and then modeled out.

So how does gratitude impact leadership?

It builds self-esteem.
It displays genuine care and compassion, especially when you specifically tell others why  you appreciate them.
It fosters an atmosphere and culture of celebration.
It restores trust and builds respect.
It allows us to heartfully connect to one another.
It defeats blame or shame based communication.
It defeats slipping into a judgement mindset.

As a practical outworking, I write down three things I’m grateful for every morning, or evening, in my journal.  On days when I’m feeling particularly discouraged or negative, I’ll do more. One day a friend commanded me to write one hundred things. Sometimes you just need to pour it out until you feel more grateful. Try it. It really works. The author Ann Voskamp has a book called 1,000 gifts which illustrates the power of gratitude.

I can’t think of a better day than Thanksgiving Day to start practicing this wonderful leadership skill.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).




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