leadership Over 20 years supporting executives I’ve heard a lot of interesting claims by those in power on why you shouldn’t express gratitude for the work and talents of others. They include:
 
– “But if I thank them for doing that which is merely in their job description, then I’ll have to acknowledge them all the time.”
 
– “When someone hears how good they are, then they falsely believe they’re better than others on the team. And I want them to compete; that’s what makes us stronger.”
 
– “Telling them what they’re doing well gives them the impression that I’m satisfied. And one look at our results tells you none of us should be satisfied.”
 
‘Tis the season, however, for expressing gratitude. Additionally, the power of expressing appreciation is often precisely what’s needed for the people within an organization to muster the courage and confidence to persevere in tough business climates.
 
Are you thankful for your team’s efforts – or not? (Your team knows the answer to this question.)
 
Well-intentioned leaders who make the claims above, when given a chance, quickly realize the error in their thinking and modify behaviors. In fact, as one leader shared, because the people of her organization are what truly differentiates the company, “identifying and celebrating what makes us unique fosters the secret sauce” – a formula every company must possess to win.
 
Try this exercise:
 
1) Identify a value or behavior that your team models that gives the company a competitive advantage.
2) Ask yourself: To what extent is the team aware that they are already modeling actions we need to win? (We find in most cases few teams have this understanding.)
3) Communicate your gratitude for the behavior(s) the team models by specifically tying it to outcomes the team relies on to win.
 
Here’s an example of what this could sound like:
 
• Stan knows that Q1 of ’17 is going to be tight financially. To succeed, he knows that the team is going to have to be more resilient and resourceful than ever.
• He considers that presently the team is only focused on how difficult things are going to be – rather than being focused on the dynamic that builds their confidence.
• So, in select settings, Stan shares his gratitude that the team models resiliency – and where and how they do it.
 
Work places are notorious for providing feedback only during scheduled performance reviews; in society, we’re equally notorious for only communicating gratitude during certain days on the calendar. We differentiate ourselves as leaders when we break this mold. By telling the team the behaviors for which we are thankful, we further operationalize that which only our team can deliver – our secret sauce.
 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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