Gone are the days when “leader” generally meant a guy in a grey suit with a briefcase. These days a leader might be a jeans and tennis shoe wearing 20...
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” –Andrew Carnegie
As leaders, our success is directly tied to the efforts of those we lead. As such, consciously recognizing them through actions that demonstrate our gratitude is one of the most valuable things we can do as leaders.
Here are 7 actions we can take to demonstrate that we are truly are grateful for the contributions of our team:
1. Say “Thank you”.
This might appear to be something too obvious to even include in this list. But, that’s exactly the point – saying thank you is one of those things that is so obvious we often forget to actually do it. “Thank you” can be conveyed in person, by email, through a phone call or even a voice message. When it is genuine and heartfelt, it means something.
2. Use actual paper from time to time.
Sending a quick thank you via email is great. But, a handwritten note requires the kind of forethought and effort that demonstrates an extra measure of gratitude for someone else’s contribution.
3. Be specific.
A general thank you is great – “Thank you for all you do.” Or, “Thanks for all your hard work.” But, most of us also benefit when others notice specific actions and call attention to significant, meaningful contributions that we offer as individuals. “I am really grateful you are on our team. You bring a uniquely analytical way of thinking to challenges that benefits us all. For example…”
4. Involve team members.
Is it even possible to feel appreciated and shut out at the same time? Inclusion in and of itself is a way to show that we appreciate the value that others bring to the team. Involving team members in all levels of decision making and problem solving is a fantastic way to demonstrate that their contributions and expertise is valued and appreciated.
5. Question your role.
An interesting side effect of genuine gratitude for the unique contributions for people on your team is that it opens up the opportunity for you as a leader to reconsider whether you’re focusing on your own strengths. Recognizing, for example, that someone else is particularly skilled at conflict resolution allows you to question the level to which you should focus on beinga vital part of your own role. Sometimes the answer to these questions is, “Yes! – this is an important part of my role that I should not delegate.” But, other times we might realize that the role we used to fill would be better filled by someone else.
6. Provide learning and growth opportunities.
A 2012 study by the American Psychological Association with over 1,700 employees indicated that 70% of employees feel valued at work when they have opportunities for growth and development. I think this is closely linked to feeling involved. When we invest in a team member’s development through training programs, assignment to significant projects, and cross-training opportunities, we communicate that they are valuable enough to be included us in the overall improvement of the organization.
7. Live your life from a place of gratitude.
I know it sounds trite. But, taking the time to consciously list what we are grateful for can be extremely valuable. Each day, or once a week, make a list of the things that others contribute for which you are grateful. Personally, I find it most valuable to do this first thing in the morning because it sets up my day from a place of appreciation rather than stress. Your list can combine the things you’re grateful for in your personal and professional life, or focus on each separately. For most of us, this simple focus on gratitude can have a significantly decrease feelings of stress while increasing our level of satisfaction.
Taking the effort, energy, and action to express gratitude can have abundant results.
When I think about it, many of the days I’ve felt great about the contributions I make are the days someone took the time to express their gratitude to me. Regardless of title or experience level, we all have a common need to be valued and appreciated.
So, what are you grateful for today? Express your gratitude to those in your life often, freely, and with great generosity.