Give thanks and appreciation with a grateful heart

Leadership Memo 2020-5

Happy Thanksgiving from the US! I am thankful for the opportunities that this unprecedented time gives me. I’ve met many people around the world during the last 8 months and made a lot of new friends. I’ve learned new things. I’m also fortunate enough to talk to many of you through different meetups, events, conferences, and 1-on-1 afterwards. I’m thankful to all who have read and commented on my blogs and newsletters, and to those who have come to my talks. I enjoyed the time that we had to share and discuss with one another. I have grown from our interactions.

Do you know that being thankful and grateful is one of the elements of being a good leader? Turns out, gratitude and thanksgiving are the healthiest emotions for human beings. Gratitude and thanksgiving relieve stress, increase happiness, increase sense of peace and lift our spirits. Medical studies also show that gratitude increases our immunity. So, how do we show gratitude?

Words of appreciation from a leader goes a long way and I like to use this format (from Virginia Satir): 

“[Name], I appreciate you for [specific act]. It helped [impact].”

That seems to be a very formal way to say “thank you”. But appreciations are more than “thank you”. Appreciations are a form of feedback, and feedback needs to be specific in order to be helpful. So start with the name, then list what they did. That helps the person to know what you’re giving feedback on instead of the general “thanks for being helpful”. Then ends with the impact of their action on you. That helps the person understand how and why the action matters.

While appreciating in private is good, appreciating in public is even better. As a good leader, you may even want to give gifts, especially when Christmas and New Year are just around the corner. However, it’s not just any gifts that you would like to give, but gifts that the person actually likes. In other words, get to know the person whom you’re appreciating, find out what they like, i.e. understand their language of appreciation. Then use their appreciation language to appreciate them. That way, they realize that you, as a leader, do not just care about their work, but you care about them as well. They thrive when they feel that their leader knows them, cares about them and appreciates them. Giving thanks, having a grateful heart and being caring are essential elements of 21st century leaders, especially during these unprecedented times.

Latest Talks:

In the last couple months, my colleagues and I discussed resistance that we’ve encountered at the senior leadership, the middle management, the team and the individual level from both the UK and the US perspectives. On Dec 10, we are hosting an agile advent party where we’ll talk about solutions that you can take away and use to address the examples of resistance we previously shared. Come join us and register here

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