Developing competent, confident leaders of teams

Have you thanked your piano player lately?

Have you thanked your piano player lately?

I was at a wonderful event recently where a world renown singer gave a wonderful concert accompanied by a marvelously talented piano player.  After his performance, the host went on stage and thanked not only the singer in the spot light, but the pianist in the shadows who was equally critical to the success of the singer’s performance.

It reminded me of the importance of showing gratitude to others – for many reasons, especially to those who make us look good.

If you want a gentle refresher on the importance of gratitude – read on!

Gratitude can provide an enormous boost to happiness in people – both those who receive it and those who give it.

The Value of Receiving Gratitude

Expressing simple, heartfelt, and specific praise can motivate people to perform at higher levels of excellence.  This is especially true when those compliments are well timed and well phrased.  Ken Blanchard, among our generation’s most treasured thought leaders, believes gratitude is one of his most important traits embraced by successful leaders.  His concept of  “find ‘em doing something right,” is a powerful message, described in detail in his phenomenal best selling book – One Minute Manager.  When people know their work is appreciated, they will use their discretionary time on the job to work harder for the organization.

Conversely, failure to acknowledge work well done can be devastating to an organization.  Too many leaders take the attitude that their people are “only doing their job.”   The hidden price for this attitude is low morale and a reduced level of performance.  Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of the best selling book The Leadership Challenge highlight that gratitude is a key element of “Encouraging the Heart” – one of the 5 fundamental practices of being an exceptional leader.

Anyone can inspire others by a word of thanks.  I remember receiving a phone call from a soldier I served with in Korea 15 years prior, calling me to say thanks for making her promotion such a special day for her.   Can you image how good I felt after that phone call?  No one I know gets tired of hearing those two wonderful words – thank you.

The Value of Giving Gratitude

Hans Selye, the great stress specialist, says that gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.  An “attitude of gratitude,” says Selye, can help one overcome the daily stresses in their own lives.  From my own experience, I know that “givers of gratitude” can bolster their own self-worth and  confidence.  I know I feel better about myself when I share appreciation in the work of others.  No one likes hanging around with nay sayers or  chronic complainers.  “Givers” show others what right looks like in leading people which can be a catalyst for creating a positive, fun work environment.  Wow – showing gratitude towards others can actually help us live healthier, more enjoyable lives!

I learned from great leaders in the Army how important it was to block time on the calendar to call people or write thank you notes.  Most of us know that it a task gets on the calendar, it will help us remember to execute what otherwise might get overlooked.  Finding ways to say thanks to people became a priority of mine years ago when I learned how much it meant for others to receive it.  Have I mastered the art of saying thanks?  Of course not.  It remains a work in progress – but one I enjoy pursuing!

A genuine display of gratitude is driven by a caring heart.  It is ultimately what is inside our hearts that drive how we behave.  Great leaders have caring hearts.  They find ways to consistently show gratitude for the wonderful work others perform and the gifts they possess.

Where Are You in Your Gratitude?

Showing gratitude is often overlooked in the busy days of our lives.  We get so wrapped up in our work, our family’s needs, our “always-on” communications, our jam-packed calendars that we lose sight of the opportunities to say thank you.  May I suggest you take a few minutes to assess where you are on this “gratitude” meter?  Then put an action plan in place to address any shortfalls you discovered.  You will feel better about yourself and so will those who work with you.

And don’t forget to thank your piano player!

Becoming a better leader is a journey.  I wish you the best!