“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist of merely words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”
- Henri-Frederic Amiel
Thanking others for their efforts is an important part of being a leader.
Did you know that saying ‘Thank You’ actually promotes prosocial behavior? According to research conducted by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, when you say ‘Thank You,’ you increase the likelihood that the person who helped you will also help others. While this is beneficial to understand for one-on-one interactions, it’s also relevant for fostering gratitude more broadly.
For teams and organizations, gratitude promotes engagement and high performance, according to Christine M. Riordan. As described in her HBR article Foster a Culture of Gratitude, “High performing teams have well-defined goals, systems of accountability, clear roles and responsibilities, and open communication. Just as importantly, teams that foster cohesion with a sense of appreciation and gratitude among the team members maximize performance on a number of dimensions.”
As we enter a time of year when our thoughts naturally turn to thanking the people and teams around us, here are 3 ideas for demonstrating gratitude:
- Be a role model. Leaders set the tone. As a leader, people pay attention to how you express gratitude with others. If you don’t know what’s meaningful to the people on your team, the best way to find out is to ask. One practical way you can do this is by surveying your team – ask what expressions of gratitude people value most. For example, when someone’s gone above and beyond, do they prefer an expression that can be shared with family and friends, or something that allows them to take time out for themselves? When you ask, you demonstrate interest in others’ needs. How do you typically express gratitude with others? Do you know what expressions of gratitude your team members value?
- Make gratitude a team sport. Given the degree to which many of us work in teams today, expressing gratitude with teams is vital. In addition to strengthening connections between team members, group celebrations are opportunities to move beyond verbal expressions of thanks. The ‘where’ and the ‘how’ are less important than taking action. Even if budget dollars are tight, a group celebration in the office or at a town hall meeting can be meaningful. How do you show gratitude for your team day-to-day? Could you create an upcoming opportunity to show gratitude and celebrate a team success?
- Connect gratitude with values. One way to create a culture of gratitude is to connect to values. When your team members hear, see, and feel gratitude on a regular basis, it starts to become part of the culture. In addition to helping strengthen high-performing teams, gratitude can also foster a happier workplace and become a ‘happiness habit.’ As you think about your organization’s values, where does gratitude fit in? How might strengthening connections between gratitude and values help the organization perform at a higher level?
When others go the extra mile for you, first, say ‘Thank You.’ Then, complete your thanks with gratitude.