At N2Growth, we aspire to practice what we preach when it comes to taking care of each other and caring for our clients in a way that is unparalleled. As we look ahead to the upcoming holiday season and ringing in the New Year, we reflect over the past year’s opportunities for growth, learning, and overcoming. While doing so, we realized there is a key ingredient in leading that is embodied in our values and our work: gratitude.

In today’s post, we’d like to share some thoughts with you on what leading with gratitude means to us. I asked some of my teammates to share their thoughts on the matter and received the following responses:

Dan Evans When it comes to leadership, possessing an attitude of gratitude is essential for success. When we are able to reach this mental state, gratitude has a direct impact on well-being and enhances our ability to serve people around us. It allows one to focus solely on what we have versus what we don’t have. When I do this, I instantly feel more abundant and am able to give more to those around me.

Ken Rowe – Leading with gratitude signifies a leader has humility and actively seeks opportunities to highlight their employees’ talents and achievements. This type of leader inherently understands that any success they have as an individual was only attainable because of the people that work for them. They don’t take all or even the majority of the credit for their successes, and when an opportunity arises, they allow their employees to give presentations to other senior leaders throughout the organization to highlight their hard work and achievements. They give credit where credit is due, emphasize individual’s achievements, and put their employees on a pedestal above themselves. A leader that can lead with gratitude will naturally build strong teams, and they will attract and retain talent to continue to move their organization forward.

Shaina Thompson – Practicing gratitude as a leader is crucial for connection; to those they lead, to the work being accomplished, and to the organization as a whole. When people feel this connection, it makes the work more satisfying and fulfilling. There is a greater sense of pride in not only one’s own work, but all the work being done. It is important to acknowledge that expressing gratitude requires authenticity. Gratitude can be expressed in many ways, so for leaders, figuring out what resonates with those they lead will help them connect with their team on more meaningful levels.

Jim HotalingThe most common verbal greeting in the Zulu tribe is “Saw-u-bona. It literally means “I see you, you are important to me and I value you.” It’s a way to make the other person visible and to accept them as they are with their virtues, nuances, and flaws. In response to this greeting, people usually say “Shiboka”, which means “I exist for you”. You see, when you “see” someone, they know it also. It is the ultimate form of gratitude. See a person for who they are and let them know it.

Mike Myatt – What if “leadership” was more than a buzzword? Have you ever felt as if the term “leadership” has a bulls-eye painted on it? Well, it’s because it does – the very mention of the word leadership seems to draw fire from increasingly large numbers these days. The term has been inappropriately hijacked by the politically correct who mock it, the avant-garde who belittle it, the naive who discount it, and the public at large seem to be growing tired of hearing about it. So, what makes leadership more than a buzzword? In a word, understanding. Leadership at its core is about understanding that you cannot decouple leadership from caring. It’s about being grateful. It’s about having gratitude for all that you encounter, and all those you serve. Leadership isn’t about shining the spotlight on yourself but creating an environment where you shine the light on others. Bottom line: Leaders are successful (or not) based on the contributions (or lack thereof) of others. Smart, engaged leaders are always grateful leaders. 

Curtis Stuesse – The act of practicing gratitude has been used throughout time, tradition, culture and creed. The lessons instilled by leaders throughout centuries have expressed the importance of gratitude in everyday living, focusing on the importance of intention in every action made. The practice of gratitude is not simply the use of slogans, limericks or rhymes, but is the deliberate act of providing an example to those around you about the values you hold. As Sam Walton once said, “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise.” Successful leaders don’t miss opportunities to show their gratitude to those around them. It is the principal endeavor of their work and is widely used throughout their approach. Leading with gratitude is the truest example of leadership which endures the test of time. 

Gordon Berridge – It’s a subtle yet important ingredient in a dish, like salt – without a pinch here and there you notice. Gratitude serves an almighty purpose, costs you very little, and helps to build up those around you. Leaders void of gratitude will quickly lose good people and eventually their role as a leader as a result. 

Tim Dunn – Intuitively, people think great leadership entails things like, “confidence”; “influence”; “communication”; “resilience”; etc… The word “gratitude” rarely surfaces, and although these other attributes are important, I believe what separates great leaders from good leaders is their sincere gratitude at both the individual and organizational levels. Gratitude, defined as ‘The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness,’ is incredibly easy to apply. It could be as simple as saying “thank you” to recognize someone for their efforts, but the impact is immense. The reason gratitude is the single most important attribute a leader can possess is because when it’s practiced honestly and genuinely, it humbles a leader to those he/she has the privilege of serving. In return, grateful leadership elicits mutual respect and loyalty from the group. 

Dan Myatt – I believe that gratitude is a foundational element of leadership.  In fact, if your leadership actions aren’t flowing from a core of gratitude, you’re likely an ineffective leader.  Leadership is 1s and 0s – you’re either doing it or you’re not. To lead well, you must relentlessly take care of your people.  To take care of your people, you have to know them; and to know them, you have to spend time with them. In order to do that with the right levels of nuance and authenticity – and thereby inspire high levels of trust with your team – you must genuinely care.  And you can’t really genuinely care if you’re not grateful for your team.  Leaders must carefully cultivate their own personal spirit of gratitude, which then spills over to their broader team, how they treat people, causes one to give credit to the team when things go well / take personal responsibility when things go poorly, and so on.  So in summary, a spirit of gratitude is often at the root of great leadership, and should, therefore, be cultivated and tended to with the utmost care.

Tom Dunn – Leadership is the most important quality of any business practitioner. A leader makes critical decisions, they inspire followership, and they completely alter the trajectory of a company. Leaders come in many shapes and sizes, and they have a plethora of different techniques and approaches. However, the one thing all great leaders have in common is the love and appreciation of their own team. No, not the team in a collective sense, but the individual members that make up the whole. This gratitude cannot be faked or manufactured; it must be genuine and truly authentic love and devotion to its members. This constructs an environment where everyone has self-worth and a feeling of belonging. It fosters a sense of team, a feeling of purpose, and a culture of cooperation. Gratitude is the key that unlocks the full potential of individual members. I can promise you ten times out of ten, you show me a leader without gratitude, and I will show you a team that will fail. 

With a heavy lean toward authenticity, humility, and understanding that the best leaders are successful because of the support and dedication of those around them, N2Growth views gratitude as a “must-have” in genuine leaders. It is only with this authenticity, with this acknowledgment of seeing and hearing people exactly as they are, that we can truly lead and inspire those around us. So, as we look forward to a new year and embrace a spirit of gratitude, remember to recognize the individuals who make up your organization, for it is with each individual contribution that true change and forward momentum can occur.

What does leading with gratitude mean to you? Please share your thoughts below…