Leadership Lessons

The Power of a Grateful Leader

Excerpted from the Switch and Shift Website, written by Matthew Gordon

Expressing gratitude effectively is an art form. If done correctly, gratitude generates positive energy that benefits the employee, you, and your organization as a whole. Gratitude doesn’t have to be extravagant as long as it’s sincere. To get the most out of gratitude, you should always:
  1. Single people out. Although there’s a time and place for thanking your team as a whole, you shouldn’t always lump your thanks together. It may save you time, but it’s impossible to reap the full benefits of gratitude unless you single out employees to express your thanks for their individual contributions.
  2. Be genuine. Gratitude that isn’t genuine is worse than no gratitude at all. People can always tell when you aren’t being sincere, and your compliment will backfire.
  3. Be specific. General thanks such as, "We appreciate your hard work," just won’t do the trick. Statements like this leave employees feeling like you want to say thank you, but you don’t actually know what they did for you. Instead, say something specific such as, "Thank you for your work on (blank). When you did (blank), it showed me (blank). I really appreciate it."
  4. Be unexpected. It's very common to express gratitude at the end of a project, the end of the year, or around the holidays. But to an employee, it can feel as if you are checking them off your gratitude to-do list. Spontaneous thanks mean more because they know you didn't have to thank them or even notice their hard work, but you did, anyway.
Finally, being appreciative isn't just about making your employees better - it's about making you a better leader. According to John C. Maxwell, the definition of leadership is influence. Imagine yourself as one of your employees. Who has more influence on what you do: someone who cares enough to notice and appreciate what you do, or someone who doesn't?


Each month, the HR Center for Learning and Leadership spotlights an excerpt from a leadership publication.

Recommendations for future leadership lessons may be submitted to askHR@baylor.edu.