Gratitude, empathy, and leadership

We like to think of ourselves as grateful and empathetic people. But the fact of the matter is that gratitude is a skill that takes conscious effort. What is more, gratitude, effectively cultivated and practiced, can have a huge impact on motivating your staff and boosting performance. In Leading with Gratitude, authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton lay out the best practices for becoming a more grateful and effective leader.

At the core of Leading with Gratitude is the idea that gratitude is an, if not the essential element to creating a cohesive and healthy workplace culture. Gratitude, in this context, means the ability to show care for and appreciation of both peers and subordinates in a way that is intentional and individualized. Routine pats on the back during performance reviews are not gratitude. Depending on the employee, a fancy watch or plaque might not be gratitude, since it is something that is inherently personal.

In other words, gratitude is only effective, is only itself, when it is tailored to the wants and needs of the person receiving it. This means the first step to leading with gratitude is to learn some empathy. Take time to listen to concerns and suggestions. If a staff member gives good feedback, consider implementing it. If they give bad feedback, make sure to explain your reasoning, instead of simply brushing them off.

By building a culture that stresses empathy and mutual appreciation for a job well done, leaders will actually enhance the performance of their teams and unify them around the success of the organization, and not around complaining about management.

The book is written in a fairly hokey style, which can be distracting but doesn’t obscure the good stuff too much. It is structured in a very straightforward manner, with an introduction, followed by eight myths regarding gratitude and the eight practices of gratitude.

Leading with Gratitude is full of studies showing that workers broadly feel under-appreciated and unheard, giving the ideas contained within it more immediacy. The authors make sure their ideas are all actionable and practical, which keeps the book from devolving into mere cliche. Gratitude is an attitude that values trust and people over fear and KPIs. This book helps to implement that ideal in practice.

Leading with Gratitude is available for purchase here.

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