Recently I was skimming through minutes from a weekly Blueprint Leadership Team meeting and something made me stop and chuckle. Each person had shared some good news from their week, and one had offered that she and her husband managed to shop for AND assemble several pieces of IKEA furniture without any squabbling.
It made me smile because I can relate (furniture assembly is now something I refuse to do, since it has been the biggest source of a fight I have ever seen). But it also made me realize how much I appreciate Blueprint’s tradition of sharing things for which we are grateful at the start of team meetings. It’s an opportunity to learn more about each team member, what they value, and what brings them joy.
Gratitude has a huge impact on business culture, and I thought the topic was spot on for a blog.
Early on in life, I was inspired by my parents to thank the people who help me, especially those who do not ordinarily receive compliments or gratitude. I grew up working in a grocery store in a small town, and our customers ranged from the very poor to the wealthiest. It gave me an appreciation for everyone. From the grocery bagger to the front desk clerk, I did my best to look them in the eye and share an unexpected compliment.
Later in life I realized, as a leader, I should take that habit to the next level and show sincere gratitude to be an example for others. Over time this had tremendous benefits for my businesses.
Extending the theme from above, I always try to slow down and engage with everyone, not just my partners or peers. I think the expression of genuine interest implies true gratitude for your colleagues and improves relationship capacity significantly.
Be Grateful for What You Have
Another habit I developed a few years back is maintaining a gratitude journal. Gratitude is a powerful force, and on days when things are not going as I would like, I find that a glance into the journal allows me to focus on what is most important and diminishes the impact of any short-term hindrances.
I truly believe in the quote about how gratitude “turns what we have into enough.” I also believe that the feeling of gratitude is one of God’s great gifts to us.
Make Gratitude Part of Your Business Strategy
In all the businesses I am involved in, we show appreciation in one form or another regularly, such as we do at the beginning of Blueprint’s weekly meeting. Nothing is off limits. Often it is something family related or a travel experience. There are also times when one team member expresses gratitude to another for exceptional effort or support. Over time the institutionalization of gratitude in a company can impact the team, clients, and community in an incredibly positive way.
Not all business leaders practice gratitude, and I believe they are missing a huge opportunity. I believe that a healthy company culture is one of the last great competitive advantages in almost any business category today. Leading by example in expressing gratitude and empathy is one of the most direct ways one can affect business culture in a positive way.
Be Sincere with your Gratitude!
Recently I witnessed a leader in another business who, in many ways, appears to be a charming and appreciative person, and whose team is on point and engaged. Upon closer inspection, what I witnessed was a first-person and narcissistic CEO who does not respect other’s time or talents, and whose own lack of emotional intelligence (EQ) consistently sabotages an otherwise talented and productive team. This style of leadership used to work, in the 70s and 80s. However, in today’s competitive environment, teams need a leader who can be fearless in the face of challenges, direct when called for, but also humble, grateful, and empathetic.
Elevate the Emotional Intelligence of your Team
Many authors have written volumes about EQ at the individual level. It is clear to me that EQ can be cultivated and developed over time. The relevance here is that I believe that increased EQ also happen at the team level.
Expressing gratitude regularly and publicly raises the team empathy level, and this growth ultimately translates into a more trusting work environment and better team performance overall.
The following quote has been attributed to Harry Truman and John Wooden: “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”
Give credit and gratitude early and often and watch the magic happen.
We Are Grateful for our Readers
Writing blogs like this one has become a very enjoyable part of my routine, and I am grateful for the folks who read what we have to say regularly. The feedback and compliments also fuel us to think of ways we can share learnings and intelligence that add more value as we progress.