Count Your Blessings
With Thanksgiving a few days away, it may be a great time to exercise the practice of gratitude. Some people seem to be naturally grateful for the things around them, circumstances and whatever is in their life. Many view this attitude as a positive personality trait. Others seem to struggle with gratitude and instead feel that something is owed to them and all expressions of gratitude their due. If you have worked in an organization that practices gratefulness/gratitude you understand its value. If you haven’t…you honestly don’t know what you’re missing.
Gratitude has been called the “social glue” that binds friends, family and life and work partners. In the Science of Gratitude, published by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, the article refers to gratitude as the “..backbone of human society.” This year, the HR department at UNC, Chapel Hill, offered a virtual workshop on Gratitude: A Skill for Happier Living promising attendees that “Gratitude is a skill anyone can learn as an alternative to regret and fear.” So, we know an attitude of gratitude just makes us happier people, but how does that translate into the workplace?
According to numerous studies referenced on the website Frontiers in Psychology, the importance of gratitude in organizational success has been confirmed. Gratitude in organizations can promote individual well-being, and lower negative emotions. One study called gratitude the “antidote against toxic emotions in the workplace.” And gratitude contributes to employee efficiency, success, productivity, and loyalty.
“Gratitude thus appears to be a precious resource that sustains performance.”
~ Frontiers in Psychology
Being actively grateful in today’s market is not the popular practice, but that does not mean we as leaders should ignore it. In fact, the Naylor Agency, an Association Management Firm, calls gratitude an essential leadership skill and says, “Gratitude is a powerful – yet often underappreciated and underutilized – leadership skill that can transform your organization.” Keeping a good, positive, grateful perspective on life helps the work environment for everyone.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
If we want to see more gratitude, we as leaders have to be willing to consistently model it. I find it helps when my team of managers and I bring awareness to our own gratitude and provide an opportunity for others to express theirs. Here are a few simple ideas for planting seeds of gratitude in your team. Make a list of all the positive things you like about your job. Do they pay you? Do they offer direct deposit and provide benefits? Do they provide equipment, computers, trucks for you to do your work in and with? Do they provide a breakroom, clean restrooms, coffee, snacks? You get the picture. The act of listing the positives reinforces the positives. This practice of gratitude has a snowball effect, and an attitude of gratitude seems to grow stronger among our team.
I have found some people want to look for the negative, but as leaders we can help others see the real picture of what all we can be grateful for. Leading your team through an exercise in gratitude requires courage and strength and it is not for the faint-hearted leader. Practicing gratitude is a choice. Having led these exercises over the years I can tell you, I am glad I choose to help others find the good things we can all be grateful for within our organization.
“Gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.”
Count your blessings every day,