As the year draws to a close, it’s helpful to evaluate where you are as a leader and organization. Are you stressed? Feeling overworked? Focused on the negative with yourself, your business, employees or customers? If so, your team is probably stressed and critical, and you’re most likely experiencing employee and customer turnover.
Or … are you grateful for the business you own or lead? Are you appreciative of your vendors, customers and staff and all they bring to the table? Better yet, are you regularly expressing gratitude and appreciation to those around you?
I’ve long stated, “As the leader goes, so goes the team.” Whether positive or negative, your attitude and leadership permeate your workplace and greatly impact productivity and profitability.
If you haven’t already keyed into gratitude and appreciation, it’s time to consider their effects on individuals as well as your business. Oxford defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” It also defines appreciation as “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”
Gratitude and appreciation are good for your business. They help you attract and retain outstanding employees. Furthermore, individuals indicate they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. Earn a reputation as someone who values and acknowledges hard work, and people will want to work for you.
Gratitude also positively benefits individuals. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, research indicates gratitude can “lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide … Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of medication adherence.”
Lastly, gratitude builds trust and engenders customer loyalty. Buyers choose where they do business, and it’s far easier to retain them than to continually find new ones. Think how you feel when a business you utilize knows your name, says thank you, offers perks and lets you know of things ahead of the general public.
The following are ways to cultivate a gratitude attitude:
Look for the positive. It’s always there, even when things go wrong. Make a mistake and you can beat yourself up, or you can be grateful that you are wiser and ready for the next time. Teach your employees to do the same and you’ll reap the rewards of a growth culture.
Focus on what is working. If the vast majority of your business is working well, the majority of your words should center around what is effective. When the positive receives attention, it gets repeated. Additionally, if you focus on the positive, when you need to address a problem, it’s far easier for others to hear and be invested in fixing it.
Say thank you. It costs virtually nothing to say thank you. Failure to express gratitude however, negatively impacts employees, customers and your bottom line.
Regularly identify at least three things you’re grateful for. Each time you do, you move yourself into a more productive zone. On tough days, your list may be water, air and shelter. It’s even more effective when you choose to focus on the people who work for and with you, and the customers who keep your doors open.
In addition to improving your well-being, expressing gratitude and appreciation to bosses, peers, management, employees, suppliers and customers, ensures your stake-holders feel valued. That’s a leadership game-changer every time.