What’s the importance of practicing gratitude? And how can leaders use it for the good of an organization?
Gratitude is a combination of feelings and beliefs, telling us that what we have in life is a blessing.
Recently, the importance of practicing gratitude in a professional setting received much attention. Several research studies focused on gratitude in the field of positive and organizational psychology. The results showed that implementing this type of behavior achieved excellent results both for leaders and employees.
But the effect of gratitude goes further than the wellbeing of those practicing it. Especially in a business setting. It contributes to building a healthy organizational climate and affects results as well.
The benefits of practicing gratitude
Exercising gratitude boosts efficiency. It leads to better results, productivity, and employee loyalty. Furthermore, it encourages pro-social behavior within an organization and helps build good relationships. This results in a supportive community and reduces negative emotions such as jealousy or hate.
Besides all these advantages, gratitude affects self-confidence in a work environment. It contributes to creating psychological safety. By that it allows employees to express their thoughts and ideas without fearing negative consequences. Even more, workers who feel confident in their positions don’t fear punishment in the event of asking for help. Some research even shows that gratitude strengthens morale and accountability (Di Fabio, Palazzeschi and Bucci, 2017).
Leaders who practice gratitude are more efficient at managing their employees. They’re also more likely to apply the principle of equality and fair management (Mills, Fleck and Kozikowski, 2003).
There are many ways in which leaders can practice gratitude:
- Daily, by summing up the day and focusing on what they did well.
- By consistently celebrating personal and team successes.
- Giving importance to small achievements.
- Recognizing and rewarding all team member’s accomplishments equally.
- Pointing out existing team results and qualities.
- Focusing on what helped leaders get where they are.
- Enjoying the blessings that come with the work role, etc.
How gratitude leads to resilience
Practicing gratitude, leaders also improve their resilience. This is what makes them more skilled in overcoming stress and failure. It makes them strong and stable.
Resilient leaders are good role models for their employees. They create an atmosphere that allows for mistakes and facilitates learning opportunities. They encourage growth, and help employees find happiness in what they have while encouraging them to strive for better. Leaders who practice gratitude are at peace with themselves, and as such can be a good support to their teams, as well as their organization.
Seeing that they’re geared towards growth and learning, they successfully balance success and risk through practicing gratitude.
They are good at managing risks. Knowing the importance of what they have gives them a feeling of calm and clarity allowing for good decision making.
Gratitude also helps suppress the leader’s ego into a non-primary position. This way, they can become the type of person people will want to follow with their heart, head, and hands. Great leaders enjoy support and trust because people know that they work for the good of everyone. Their teams are ready to invest their resources (hear, head, hands) and work for the good of the organization.
Finally, don’t forget the fact that everything you got with your position and professional advancement belongs to the role. It was meant for the leadership position, not you personally. So be humble. Leaders practicing gratitude and humility, ultimately improve both their personal and their team’s wellbeing.
- Maura J. Mills, Christina R. Fleck & Andrzej Kozikowski (2013) Positive psychology at work: A conceptual review, state-of-practice assessment, and a look ahead, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8:2, 153-164, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2013.776622
- Di Fabio A, Palazzeschi L and Bucci O (2017) Gratitude in Organizations: A Contribution for Healthy Organizational Contexts. Front. Psychol. 8:2025. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02025