I receive Chief Executive, a quarterly magazine that addresses management and leadership issues for business leaders. The summer issue contains an interview with Chester Elton about he and Adrian Gostick’s book, Leading with Gratitude, which I found interesting and will comment on this month.
We are in turbulent and disrupted times. The COVID pandemic will soon enter its third year. People are unsettled as they deal with COVID exposures, illnesses within their families, changes in their workplace, lifestyle and recreational activities, and so many other challenges.
The disruptions find their way into the workplace and employee attitudes. Leading with Gratitude states that letting people know they matter in a workplace is the most important factor in retaining and motivating people. It also states that younger employees are looking for an organization that provides them with a sense of purpose. They want to make a difference.
As I read the interview, I thought it made sense because we are all that way. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves so we can make a difference. Being part of a positive change is important to us and our self-esteem. Also, and equally if not more important, we all want to be recognized and appreciated for what we do.
That means CEOs should express their appreciation and gratitude for what their people do for their companies. Leading with Gratitude describes different ways CEOs have expressed gratitude within their organizations. Some are as simple as saying thank you to those who do well. Other examples include building a gratitude channel within the organization to get everyone involved in expressing gratitude. Others find writing personal notes to those that have done a job well or that are experiencing difficult times effective. Another CEO stated that before getting down to business with an employee, she takes time to ask how the employee and their family were doing.
In an interview about his book, Chester Elton says real “gratitude in a business sense is an emotional affirmation” that what someone did matters, and by extension, that person matters. He further states, “You can’t be in a state of gratitude and a state of anxiety at the same time. Simple practices of expressing gratitude lower anxiety levels.” Elton also says that gratitude “communicates what you value most. If you want to be a better communicator, lead with gratitude.”
Elton closes the interview by saying that leading with gratitude is all about better employees, better decisions, more productivity and better employee retention. An expression of gratitude influences leaders to be better leaders and to be better people, too. Why would you not come to work excited every day?
As I read the book review, I became convinced the authors are correct. Gratitude does reduce anxiety levels and helps make people more comfortable. Comfortable people are more productive, happier, easier to be around, more interactive and more creative.
It also is apparent that gratitude should not be limited to the workplace. If gratitude helps employees be better, isn’t it logical that gratitude also builds better interpersonal relationships, stronger friendships, and better people?
So many people have supported us, invested in us, helped us and counseled us when things have been difficult. It starts with our parents, teachers, friends, co-workers, family members, and children. And, there are many other people we may not know all that well who have helped each of us on our way through life.
We have so much to be thankful for: living in a free country, having more conveniences of life than anyone else in history, having the best healthcare system ever known despite the COVID pandemic, having food to eat, having jobs to support ourselves and our families, and so many other things. When was the last time we offered gratitude to those who have supported or helped us or who help us every day of our lives, whether they be grocery clerks, customer service representatives, doctors, or just friends or family?
Chester Elton is correct, “You can’t be in a state of gratitude and a state of anxiety at the same time.” A state of anxiety is no way to work or live. Look around for people to express your gratitude. It will make their day a little bit less stressful and make them feel better about themselves and their life. And it will make you a little bit better, too.
I am grateful and appreciative to all of you for your expression of support and others for constructive criticism of my articles, which I hope makes me a better person. I hope you will find many people to express your gratitude to and will have a good month.