Grateful Gone Missing? In Search of Gratitude

This month many folks I know are participating in the Facebook Daily Gratitude Challenge. They are posting “something for which they are truly grateful” each day.

My friend Lisa wrote, “I am grateful for gratitude.”

Ah, I thought, now that is something to consider.

What is grateful?

What does it mean to be truly grateful?

How does gratitude change us?

Why must leaders be grateful?

What are you most grateful for?

As leaders, we spend much time on “thanks for passing the gravy” kind of thanks.

  • …thanks for this report
  • …thanks for the update
  • …thanks for coming to work on time
  • …thanks for returning my call
  • …thanks for dinner

Those courtesies are important and necessary. But they are not gratitude.

Most organizations also do a pretty good job with formal recognition— taking time to determine who deserves the plaque and celebration. These ceremonies can surely come from a place of deep gratitude, but not necessarily. Often, they are based on numbers and rankings. Gratitude doesn’t come from spreadsheets.

Gratitude involves a deeper pause of true thanksgiving. I see this missing at many levels in organizations.

Grateful is missing when,

an executive hears a presentation and immediately responds with questions, concerns, critiques and challenges, without a pause to consider the depth and breadth of work entailed, the long hours, and the creative thinking.

a middle manager is frustrated in his current role, but overlooks his long career of exciting challenges and developmental experiences

a team leader acknowledges the team’s steady progress, but fails to understand the deep personal sacrifices of her team

a team member resents the promotion of a coworker, and overlooks all the ways he has grown himself in the past year

an employee didn’t receive the same tee-shirt as the guy in the next cube, and overlooks all the ways her family is benefiting from her job

a volunteer feels slighted by a decision, and misses the magic of being part of something important in the community

???

Thanks and recognition are about the receiver. As leaders, it is our job to say thank you and recognize good work.

Gratitude is also about the giver. Gratitude can transform our leadership.
 

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

8 Comments

  1. Deep down, most of us grateful. The key is being intentionally grateful each day.

    As I spooned the granola and honey nut cheerios swimming in almond milk into my mouth, I quickly went through a number of things I’m grateful for.

    The day always goes much better when I take a pause to reflect on my grateful list.

  2. Karin,

    You were right about our similar lines of thinking in our posts today – an excellent post you’ve got here! I can’t agree with you more about the way that gratitude transforms our leadership.

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