Article: Improving Your Leadership by Practicing Gratitude

Positive psychology researchers like Robert Emmons have shown people who practice gratitude are less stressed, more satisfied with their lives, physically and psychologically healthier, and even sleep better than people who don’t regularly practice gratitude. What leader couldn’t use higher-quality rest?

Methods for practicing gratitude

Bright Dickson, MAPP
Senior Consultant
 

Leaders are busy people. With meetings, memos, hard choices, and challenging obstacles, many leaders feel pressured to move directly from one thing to the next, without pausing to take in the accomplishments they and their teams have made. This is a lost opportunity. Great leaders make time to savor their progress and practice gratitude to those who helped make it happen.

Studies show leaders who regularly express sincere gratitude to their teams promote job satisfaction, which can successfully lower turnover and improve productivity. It’s not just others who benefit from your gratitude – you do, too. Positive psychology researchers like Robert Emmons have shown people who practice gratitude are less stressed, more satisfied with their lives, physically and psychologically healthier, and even sleep better than people who don’t regularly practice gratitude. What leader couldn’t use higher-quality rest?

To experience the benefits of gratitude, a leader has got to practice it regularly. Gratitude is like exercise – you don’t get the benefits if you do it only sporadically. Here are three science-based methods for practicing gratitude:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal 
    At the same time, in the same place, every day, write down one to three things you are grateful for and why. Reflect on who helped you experience that good thing, and how you might have contributed to someone else.
  2. Write a letter of appreciation 
    Send an email thanking someone on your team for what they have done lately. It shows you notice their hard work and care about their presence in your leadership.
  3. Make it a team mission 
    Sprinkle a little gratitude into your team meeting. Use it as a way to transition between topics. Ask others to share their gratitude, big or small, and watch the rest of the meeting become extra productive!

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