Examining examples of workplace culture today, it becomes evident that many facets of our society are becoming increasingly impatient, self-centered, disrespectful, and unappreciative. However, it’s important to realize that we can still cultivate a culture of gratitude within the workplace. This involves fostering an understanding and appreciation for those who contribute daily to the functioning of your business. Regrettably, these negative tendencies often go unnoticed by those unconcerned or contributing to these disturbing trends.
This is an alarming observation in the current era. These attitudes and behaviors are apparent in various corners of the professional world as businesses grapple with maintaining employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity. It’s common for employees to readily identify aspects that irritate them while rarely reflecting on elements that bring satisfaction. Consequently, a discontent workforce offers minimal returns on the skills and experience invested in it.
Leaders have traditionally been tasked with setting the tone and rectifying the positive organizational culture. However, leaders displaying negative behaviors can anticipate similar actions from their staff. Leaders who can model positive behaviors significantly impact how people respond, interact, and derive satisfaction from their work. Positive behavior is rooted in a positive mindset, with gratitude as the crucial foundation.
Culture of Gratitude vs Ingratitude
Gratitude is the appreciation for being a benefactor of something that has improved your life. It’s also a recognition that you didn’t cause or deserve it. Gratitude is thankfulness for what you have, who you are, or what opportunities lay before you. It stirs satisfying feelings that are promising, optimistic, and calming.
Leaders with gratitude know they’ve been given something from a source bigger than themselves, causing a favorable condition with a lasting effect. This creates a positive mindset that can’t be concealed. That mindset fashions a beneficial outlook, which steers helpful actions. This is the best life-enhancing tool for leaders and those they lead.
According to executive coach Christine Comaford in her 2017 Forbes article, Great Leaders Have an Attitude of Gratitude – Do You? a grateful mindset offers leaders a positive emotional reserve that can be tapped when tough situations arise. This is a great tool to thrive under pressure and allows us to overcome challenges. Alternatively, ingratitude leads to negative emotions that drag a spirit down. A negative focus doesn’t inspire satisfaction, ideas, solutions, or helpful decisions.
Grateful leaders see conditions more positively and experience less stress and fatigue. This allows for a better focus, reason and discernment—a healthier leadership. Contrary to this, ungrateful leaders are often burdened with debilitating stress and are more susceptible to burnout. A negative outlook misjudges situations, causing mistakes, missed opportunities, and unfortunate responses.
Gratitude often spurs compassion and kindness toward others. This draws employees and forms their loyalty, trust, and engagement. People find these qualities difficult to resist. They want to be around a grateful leader and, in turn, become more grateful themselves. The opposite effect is true for ungrateful leaders: they are hard to deal with. People avoid them and have no desire to know them. Ingratitude spreads like a disease, causing the culture to grow toxic.
Growing Your Internal Gratitude
No question, gratitude is a perspective that forms your mindset and worldview. These act as valuable foundations for a positive, value-based life, both corporately and personally. This benefits the people around you as well. But how can you grow this trait within you? How can the seeds of gratitude get planted in your mind?
A fundamental approach is to take stock of what you’ve been given: what skills you’ve acquired, what opportunities came your way, what successes you’ve enjoyed, and what people have made your life better. In other words, focusing on your life’s positive aspects is a primary step to being thankful.
Appreciate the small things you have, the little gains that could have benefitted someone else but came your way. Everyone’s life can be a celebration of positive things. It’s a choice. Take a look back in time, revisit the journey you’ve been on, and see how far you’ve come. Isn’t that worth being thankful for? When stress rises, think of those things you’re thankful for and foster a better perspective.
Recognizing the relative nature of things can also help develop a spirit of gratitude. You likely know of people who are burdened by things that don’t affect you. There are always tougher stories out there. Being thankful for what you don’t have to deal with can complement the thankfulness for the good things you have.
When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss the importance of identifying people who lift your spirits. Are they grateful people? To keep you on the right track, surround yourself with them. You’ll be surprised how sufficiently their gratitude wears off on you.
If you’re struggling to grow your internal gratitude, an executive coach can put you on the right path and encourage you along the way, helping you train your brain to lean to the positive side of things. I’d love to help.
Building a Culture of Gratitude
Since all leaders mold their culture one way or another, grateful leader influences their people in ways that demonstrate the benefits of thankfulness. People see the difference, and they like it, wanting more of it. Work life becomes more enjoyable and rewarding. Leading by example is the most powerful means to foster a better environment and build a culture of gratitude.
Noted author and coach DeLores Pressley puts it simply in Smart Business Magazine, authenticity is the best way to make an impression. Phony gratitude is noticeable. Showing your staff that you’re thankful for them demonstrates gratitude significantly. People who feel valued return the sentiment.
When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss how leaders make it a habit to thank their people. This builds a culture of mutual appreciation and emulation. For example, find ways to reach out to them and add value with thanks, appreciation, congratulations for accomplishments, and helpfulness. Giving them your best, with your time and skills, tells them you’re grateful for having them on your staff.
Leaders who point to the positives in everyday activities reveal a grateful spirit. Of course, every organization has negative issues, and lamenting with grumbling or resentment drags everyone down. However, emphasizing positive solutions or valued lessons learned draws out thankfulness in everyone. Building on positives enhances the opportunities for more and unites people in a common, worthy cause. That’s worth being thankful for, too.
Believing in your leadership abilities and the skills of your people, giving them grace when they err and support when they succeed, crafts a positive and grateful culture that has no limits. Make it your example and your expectation that a positive, thankful mindset is what your organization needs to prosper. Certainly, no one will object to that.
Are you nurturing a culture of gratitude? I’d love to work with you to create a culture of gratitude in the workplace. Schedule a free exploratory call here.