Thanksgiving is that time of year when all of us are a bit more focused on gratitude than normal. But what if gratitude was more a part of our day-to-day life than it normally is?

What kind of an impact would that have? Do you believe there is a connection between gratitude and performance?

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” -Charles Schwab

As leaders, showing appreciation for what those around us do and achieve is one of the best things we can do to boost moral and increase motivation. Just taking a moment to let people know that we value them can inspire them to want to achieve bigger and better things.

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” -Gertrude Stein

Most of us strive to do more than what’s expected when we feel truly appreciated, don’t we? An article from Stanford Graduate School of Business proves this point, highlighting research suggesting that when people are thanked for their efforts they are more inclined to go above and beyond in offering help to others in the future. “[The] findings suggest that when helpers are thanked for their efforts, the resulting sense of being socially valued is critical in encouraging them to provide more help in the future. Gratitude expressions spill over onto other beneficiaries as well, suggesting that one can spark a chain of pro-social behavior with a simple thank you. Overall, the research affirms our general intuition – that giving thanks can have important implications for encouraging actions that promote cooperation. Clearly, a little appreciation goes a long way.”

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

Personal experience has taught me that just remembering to say “thank you” can cause the other person to feel valued and important. But you know what’s interesting? Saying “thank you” to those around me also has a positive impact on my perceived value and overall attitude. The effect of gratitude is cyclical. Acknowledging the efforts of others, and choosing to feel gratitude for what they do, causes me to feel better about my work, my life, and myself.

“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” – Gerald Good

That’s part of the reason why gratitude, or the lack thereof, has a huge influence on organizational culture. Culture is not one of those unimportant matters to be dealt with only when the real business of running day-to-day operations is done. Culture directly supports – or detracts from – business goals. Disregarding it, or hoping it will take care of itself, can result in individuals separating themselves into silos, afraid to step out on a limb with new solutions or ideas.

When people are encouraged to give and receive positive feedback, it creates an environment in which everyone is more inspired to do their best, come up with better ideas and more creative solutions. In other words, gratitude is a vital aspect in the creation of a culture of excellence.

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”

-Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

The role of leaders in creating such a culture is essential. Therefore, the personal cultivation of gratitude within our leaders is also essential. It requires a consistent, conscious effort to pause, recognize and reflect on those things we are grateful for year round, not just during Thanksgiving. When we are able to make a habit of gratitude, and express authentic appreciation for our co-workers, partners and members, the effect is powerful, positive and far-reaching.

The Thanksgiving season can serve as a great reminder to cultivate a deeper attitude of gratitude, but it’s only when gratitude is a year-round occurrence that we are able to create better organizations and better lives.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I am ever so grateful for you.

About Dan Finerty

Dan Finerty is the Director of Marketing at the Mountain West Credit Union Association, a Credit Union champion, a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE), and an award-winning marketer. Dan has over 14 years of marketing experience in communications, retail, packaged goods, and, of course, Credit Unions. He believes that Credit Unions have an incredible story to tell and works with some of the brightest Credit Union professionals to help promote Credit Unions to the public. Dan holds two Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing and in Management. He is also a swell guy.

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