How to develop gratitude as a leadership skill

When you think of leadership skills you might consider ‘communication’ or ‘motivating others’ or ‘listening’ but how many would say ‘gratitude’?

Being grateful allows us to see something meaningful in our life – both personally and professionally. So, how can it help your leadership? Well, everyone loves a leader who sees their value. In fact, in my experience, one of the top five reasons (often the number 1) that people tell me that they want to leave their job is that they feel unappreciated. If then as a leader, with your ‘gratitude glasses’ on you will see the potential in others, you are more likely to say thank you and make your team feel appreciated.

In addition having a grateful attitude can help balance out the more challenging aspects of leadership. For both you (the leader) and your team you will feel the benefits of reduced stress, improved perception and more optimism in the team. A win-win situation.

How gratitude can help your leadership

Gratitude can help build collaborative relationships with others which is great for business and projects. A pretty good byproduct of these successful relationships is increased opportunities through our networks and via other leaders. How? Grateful people attract others to us and it can influence others positively to help us, support our decisions and open unexpected doors. In short, as we appreciate their contribution it builds trust in our leadership and direction.

If that wasn’t enough, gratitude can help build resilience. How? When you appreciate what comes from your experiences you create resilience to keep on moving towards the visions we set for ourselves and the business. It allows us to learn, see opportunities and grow as individuals, as leaders and as a team. Nothing in life is without its challenges but gratitude changes your perspective.

Gratitude isn’t an attitude or a challenge; it’s a choice – Robert Braathe

How to develop gratitude

If it was as easy as saying ‘right, I shall be grateful from now on’ we would probably all be much happier. It’s not that easy though. Gratitude, like any other skill needs to be practiced and we need to pay attention. There are some ways to help though:

  • Understand WHY you are choosing to be grateful – what’s the purpose of it? It’s hard to be grateful for nothing but when we have an objective it’s much easier. What is the reason you choose to be grateful?
  • Gratitude must be genuine. If you are trying to fake it then it’s not going to work in the long run. The good news is though that even if you must fake it to start with, the more you find things to be grateful for, the more you are genuinely grateful.
  • Be specific. If you say ‘hey, thanks” as you walk past a member of your team then they won’t understand what they have done. That’s when it can come across as being fake or disingenuous. Like setting a goal it helps to be specific so, for example: “I wanted to say thanks for staying late last night. I know you worked really hard in getting that report finished in time to see the client. I really appreciate the extra effort you put in”. In fact, this week there was an email which went viral from a CEO who had thanked a member of his team who had been open in taking some time off for her mental health.
  • A practical way we can all cultivate our gratitude is to write down three things every day we are grateful for. Big, small, life changing or mundane. Do it for 30 days and see if it changes things for you.


If you are looking to enhance your leadership skills, get in contact with me. We can work together to find your voice, own your successes and awaken your potential for leadership.

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