By Andy Bailey
It’s the season of giving, and with another Thanksgiving on the books, I’m more conscious than ever about how essential gratitude is to living a happy life. For me, gratitude has two components: taking time to give thanks and taking time to give back. I work with different member companies every day, helping them set short- and long-term goals, making small changes, which – over time – add up to big results. This lesson is universal in that it applies to work, life and relationships equally.
As a business leader, whether you’re working with your own company on a charity drive or seeking to build a more cohesive team internally, taking small steps in the short term will lead you to the big results you want. Make gratitude a part of your everyday plan, and those results will be even bigger – you’ve just got to put in the time.
Here are three ways leaders can both express and inspire gratitude in the workplace:
1. Say thank you
It’s simple. If you want to boost the morale at your office, take time to say “thank you” and acknowledge the contributions of your team members. It can be in person, or – even better – it could be a handwritten note of thanks. In this age of email and text messages, your sentiment will stand out and be memorable when delivered sealed in an envelope. Be generous and dole out compliments regularly. It’s a small thing that you can do, but over time will help you build a more positive culture and happy team.
2. Be an inspiration
I’ve said before that leaders should inspire team members, rather than motivate them. Live as an example of how you want your team to live and work. Making the choice every day to share your personal story and to use your successes and failures as lessons will pay dividends in the long run. How many of us have worked at a company where we had to hold back our thoughts or couldn’t be ourselves? If we have, I bet we got out of there fast. Inspire your team and you’ll breed not only satisfaction, but loyalty as well.
3. Tell the truth. Always.
This may seem like an obvious one, but many leaders make the mistake of not being candid and transparent with their team members about company news. It’s a fact that most of us don’t like to deliver bad or challenging news. However, holding back important information can be more damaging than informing your team. News will get out eventually and you want to make sure it comes from you first. If your team feels trusted enough to share any burden, they’ll be more apt to get “in the trenches” with you to solve the problem and pull together as an organization. Your small choice to communicate honestly will can have a big, lasting impact.
If thinking small is not something you’re used to, it’s time to start. And, if you haven’t made gratitude a part of your long-term strategy for life and work, you and your team are missing out. Reach out to your team members. Say thank you and formally recognize their contributions every day. You don’t have to make a grand gesture – it’s the little things that will count the most. What are you thankful for? And, how do you plan to give back?
Andy Bailey is the author of No Try Only Do: Building a Business on Purpose, Alignment, and Accountability. He is CEO and head coach with business coaching firm Petra Coach and serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, the leaders of the Scale Up movement. Visit his blog on petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight.